I Have a Confession...and a new series!

I have a confession.
 

I've wasted too much time in my life looking for validation from other people. Am I smart enough? Am I a good person? Am I a good mom? Am I good writer?

It's normal to want praise--a few words about how other see and appreciate us and what we're doing. Some of us thrive on it. I think that's why it's so easy for me to give praise and motivation to others. I need it; so I assume others might need it, too.

 

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But I've spent way too much time seeking validation.

I'm proud of who I am. I'm proud of the majority of decisions I've made. I'm proud of how I treat people. Do I think I'm perfect? Absolutely not. But I think I'm a good person. And that has to be enough right now. 

I'm trying to get my life in order again because it's difficult for me to function in chaos. I'm the girl that can't go to sleep in an unmade bed. I will literally MAKE the bed, then pull down the covers and get in. And when life is chaotic, I get off track. I start seeking validation from others. Instead of jumping in quick and getting out, I live in that place. I grab a cozy fleece blanket and snuggle up in a place of acceptance and love. A place where I feel comfortable and safe...

But living life isn't safe--it's uncertain. It's a big fat question mark. It's the cliffhanger at the end of every chapter. Because we literally have no clue what's coming at us tomorrow.

Maybe that's why I chose to be an author. I like having control over someone's life from beginning to end. I like knowing exactly how the story goes--the ups and downs. The Big Black Moment and Happily Ever After---or Happily Ever After For Now.  Okay, that sounds super weird. I like having fictional control over fictional lives. I'm not (nor do I want to be) a puppet master in real life. My poor children...

It gives me a sense of calm to be able to create realistic characters who may start out broken and afraid--yet who see their worth by the end of the story. They see that they deserve to have a good life if they live a good life.

I need to look at my own life from the eyes of my characters. 

I've been so caught up--and drained--by things I can't control. Decisions made. Starting over. I've been depressed and lost, desperately searching for validation from others. I've needed the praise. I've needed someone to want me. I've lost my focus on what's most important.

The only person who will truly ever be able to give me the validation I'm looking for...is ME. Like my characters, I have to realize I have worth. Not because someone tells me I do, but because I believe it. It's not easy. But it's the only way I can move forward and make the best life for myself and my kids.

Am I smart enough? Yes.

Am I a good person? Yes.

Am I a good mom? Yes.

Am I good writer? Yes.

Validation from inside. It's not bragging. It's not being cocky. It's believing in myself.

Finally.

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New series announcement

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I will release the three-book MATERIAL GIRLS series in 2018.
The series, set in Charlotte, NC, follows the daughters of Harris Commons, 
the founder of a Southern department store chain.
MATERIAL GIRLS will be heartfelt and flirty, sweet and sexy -
everything readers have come to expect and enjoy from my books. 

I'm excited to blast off into this new chapter. Thank you for coming along for the ride! 

 

 
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Thanks to my Dear Readers, Love Wins Again!

 
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 ✨⭐️💫 THANK YOU! ✨⭐️💫

A MILLION TIMES, THANK YOU!

I am humbled and filled with gratitude today, as I am able to report that Thanks to YOU, the wonderful people who purchased BREAKAWAY, my latest release in the Pilots Hockey series, I was able to donate to both the charities I selected within the first week it was on sale! This is the fifth time in this 5 book series that you allowed me to do that. I could not be more excited, or proud or humbled. 

Thank you for reading my books. Thank you for buying my books.

✨⭐️💫 Thanks to YOU ✨⭐️💫

The Charlotte Checkers Charitable Foundation will receive $500.

 

✨⭐️💫 Thanks to YOU ✨⭐️💫

 “Unidos”: A Hurricane Relief Fund for Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico, launched by the Hispanic Federation and Coalition of Community Organizations and Elected Officials, will receive $250.

 

✨⭐️💫 NOTE: I originally added the extra $250 donation because of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston, Texas, and the surrounding areas. At that time, I made a personal donation to those relief efforts. I had originally vowed to donate more to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. However, that was before Hurricane Maria hit. I made a change because I feel the money is best used to assist the millions of people stranded in "apocalyptic-like" conditions in Puerto Rico at this time. Thank you for understanding.  ✨⭐️💫

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“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 

 ~ THANK YOU ~ 

 

Until next time...

#BeKindLoveHard

BREAKAWAY Charity Addition

As some of you may know, I give the first $500 of royalties I make from each of my books to a charity that I designate before the book releases.

In light of the overwhelming need for support in the Houston area after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, I've decided to add a charity to BREAKAWAY. I will still be donating $500 to the Charlotte Checkers Charitable Foundation, as I originally intended. 

I will also be donating $250 to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund set up through The Greater Houston Community Foundation.

 

 

Description of Fund:

After receiving an overwhelming number of inquiries from citizens and companies who want to help, Mayor Sylvester Turner has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax deductible flood relief donations for victims that have been affected by the recent floods. The fund will be housed at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity.

For the past four releases, I have had the opportunity to donate the FULL amount pledged after my release week. I truly hope I can do that again. 

By buying my books and supporting my career, you are also supporting organizations that help people in need. I truly appreciate every single one of you readers.

THANK YOU

#bekindlovehard

 

 
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A Post for the Broken...the Loners

Sometimes I struggle with positive thinking. Sometimes I think it’s a ridiculous lie to wake up every day and tell myself how awesome I am and how amazing life is.  

Affirmations make me laugh and remind me of that old Stuart Smalley Saturday Night Live skit. (Yes, I'm old.)  Stuart's trademark line is: "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!" ~ Stuart Smalley

I know don’t if they do. 

I don’t know if I care that they do.

Do you ever wonder why the people who tell you to think positive and love yourself are beautiful people? Who’s gonna listen to fucking quasimodo tell us to think positive and love ourselves? That won’t sell. That’s not a brand.

And, sure, a lot of those beautiful people telling us "ugly" loners that we should think positive are that way because of their hard work. I’m absolutely not taking anything away from the hustle… 

But let’s be real: there might also be a touch of youth, genetic make up, maybe plastic surgery--I'm not hating. If I had the cash I'd do an extreme fucking makeover on my face.

Insecurities weave themselves through my thoughts constantly. Even as I try to keep a positive and motivational spirit. I can’t help it. It’s how my brain is wired. It’s why I chose the tagline: Be Kind. Love Hard. Because it’s not hard—or inauthentic—for me to be kind. I want to be kind to people. I LIKE being kind to people. I LIKE loving (certain) people with every fiber of my soul. I really do. I want other people to feel good because I’ve been in their life. I don’t know if that’s narcissistic or not. If it is, then I’ll take that title. Happily.

But being positive all the time is difficult for me.

Just the other day, a friend grilled me—in one of those awesome I-needed-this ways. And the real insecurities came out. The ones that I never admit to anyone. The ones that are still there when I strip away all the positive jargon I try to make myself believe.

Here’s how I explained it: One of the most disappointing and depressing moments in my life came after an author photo shoot I did a few years back. I got my hair done for it. I got my make-up done for it. I hired a photographer who took beautiful photos and had MAD editing skills!

And when I got the pictures, I cried. I sobbed actually. Because I tried so hard to be beautiful. I pulled out all the stops I had the power and money to use…and I looked at every photo and cried. Because even after all that effort...I was still ugly. 

I feel that same way about writing. The same friend asked me what I was afraid of in trying to get to the next stage in my career. 

My answer: I’m always afraid of putting in all the effort…writing the words, perfecting the sentences, running themes throughout, using literary devices—making it the best book I can possibly wrIte—and for it to still suck.

I’m proud of every book I’ve ever written. I like the product I release. I have grown as a writer. But every time I put a new work out there, a new piece of my soul--I still think it's not good enough.

For what? For who?

I don’t know.

I’m not looking for sympathy or attention or compliments with this post. I’m giving you the story straight out of my head. These are the battles I face every day. 

What if my next book becomes a USA Today Bestseller? Will that “validation” be the catalyst to make me feel differently?

No. I can’t stop the voices in my head. I'll always think it was a fluke. I'll think it was luck. It's not my writing. It's not all the books I've read to learn from others. It's not my creative writing degree. It's not my hard work over the last seven years of intensely studying the craft and working to be published.

So I choose positivity. I choose kindness. I choose strength. Because if I don’t, what do I have? What is there in life? What impact do I have in the grand scheme of things? I’m gonna be on this earth, live a few unimpactful years, and then die. And when I let my head go that way…who does that help?

It doesn’t help me. It doesn’t help my kids. It doesn’t help all the wonderful, beautiful, broken people who I’m so grateful to have met in my life. 

So there you go. Even after anti-anxiety medication. And motherhood. And XYZ number of books sold. There’s your glimpse into what I struggle with every day. 

I don't have the answers.

I can't save you.

You can only save yourself.

I can be here for you. I can listen. I can talk with you. I can care about you and let you know how much of an impact you have made in my life and how amazing you are as an individual. I WANT TO DO ALL OF THESE THINGS!

But I can't make you love yourself.

If you're reading this, I truly hope you don’t have these struggles. But if you do, know that you are not alone. And that every single day we have to keep pushing. Push to impact the people you come in contact with. Push to support and be kind to and LOVE the people in your life that you cherish--or that need it. Push to make your slice world a better place—because I truly believe it is, just by you being in it. I LOVE YOU LONERS!

 

Follow @missiomusic on Twitter/Facebook/IG for inspiration and motivation....and people who understand... #Loners

 

Swim for the music that saves you

“You gotta swim
Swim for your life
Swim for the music that saves you
when you’re not so sure you’ll survive”
 

July 2002

I have no recollection of how many pills I'd swallowed.

It was at least 20--because that's how many I'd counted out for myself "to start with."


“You gotta swim
Swim when it hurts
The whole world is watching
You haven't come this far
To fall off the earth
The currents will pull you
Away from your love
Just keep your head above”

Deep down, I didn’t really want to die. But I couldn’t see a way out

from the Anger. Loneliness. Anxiety. Insecurity. Rejection. Self-Loathing.

My eyelids were heavy. My mouth dry.

With every breath, I willed myself to fall asleep, knowing it might mean I was dead.

at the same time, I feared falling asleep, because it might mean I was dead

“I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fired at me from a gun
Crack in the armor, yeah
I swim to brighter days
Despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water
I'm not giving in
Swim”

Memories like bullets...real fucking bullets. Real fucking blood.

The horrific memory of staring out the front window of our old house in the Detroit--the one we didn't even live in anymore--

and seeing my mother's body crumpled in a pool of blood on the sidewalk.

“You gotta swim
For nights that won't end
Swim for your families,
Your lovers, your sisters,
Your brothers, and friends
You gotta swim
For wars without cause
Swim for these lost politicians
Who don't see their greed is a flaw"

Most people don’t know how to talk to others who are contemplating suicide.

They tell us we’re selfish.

They ask if we realize what it’ll do to our family.

They accuse us of doing it for attention.

And I understand--to an extent.

If you’ve never been pulled underwater from the absolute hopelessness of depression, you might think we can snap out of it.

But that’s not how our minds work.

It completely warps our brain, making it impossible to think rationally or logically at times.

At my darkest point, I could rattle off a hundred reasons why my family would be better off without me.

How could taking my own life be for attention if I was alone in my apartment?

I wore the guise of happiness in public, never showing anyone how much I hurt inside.

 

“The currents will pull us
Away from our love
Just keep your head above”

I remember lying on the bathroom floor of my apartment in Charlotte thinking…

I have tickets for a concert next week.

I don't even know what show. 

Because that's not what's important in this story.

 

“I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fire at me from a gun
Crack in the armor, yeah
I swim to brighter days
Despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water
I'm not giving in
I'm not giving in
I swim”

I’m jolted by the memory of locking myself away in my bedroom as a kid—eyes closed, headphones on—getting lost in the music.

The lyrics. The bass line. The guitar riffs. The drum beat.

I remember how much I love the feeling of being at a live show.

And how it feels like the singer is belting out the songs just for me.

 

 “You gotta swim
Swim in the dark
There's no shame in drifting
Feel the tide shifting and wait for this spark
Yeah you gotta swim
Don't let yourself sink
Just find the horizon
I promise you it's not as far as you think”

I see the horizon.

I hear the waves against the shore.

I roll on to my stomach, grab the rim of the toilet, and pull myself onto my knees.

Then I shove two fingers down my throat, trying to bring up the pills.

 

“Currents will drag us away from our love
Just keep your head above
Just keep your head above
Swim
Just keep your head above
Swim
Just keep your head above
Swim”

I still swim.

I may falter when the dark thoughts try to seep into my head and pull me under,

but I gasp and choke and spurt, until I regain my stride.

The horizon is constantly changing.

It’s getting my kids back on Friday afternoons. It’s seeing them smile at the most mundane things we do together.

It’s starting a new book. Seeing a concert. Dinner with a friend. A trip to the beach. A drive through the mountains.

It's very hard to retrain your brain. 

But I'm trying to do that every day.

The only person who can make me feel happy – and worthy of being in this world—is ME.

I may not be remembered for anything grand in history books a hundred years from now,

but hopefully I’ll be remembered by the people I touched

with Kindness. Love. Encouragement.

And that’s good enough for me.

 

Thank you to Andrew McMahon for writing this amazing song - the lyrics I used in the post. This song was written well after the events of July 2002,

but I love the message and the strength I get from this song. I hope you do, too. Have a listen.

 

 

 

How #Bekindlovehard Happened

~ Author Unknown ~

~ Author Unknown ~

I chose my tagline for a multiple reasons. This post will give you a bit more insight. I'm finally ready to share my story, because I believe vulnerability helps more people than keeping it all inside ever will. And I truly believe my mission in life is to help people through my words and by being an inspirational and motivational person. I'm not famous by any means (hahahaha) but I do have a platform, and I chose to use it for good. :)

I had to confront my past before I could learn to love myself--to love others--to open up and truly empathize with other people. I've done this before, with trusted friends, or people who I connected with. I’ve decided to do it today—on Mother’s Day no less—because I realized you, my dear readers and followers, don't know anything about me except what I make publicly available. I mean, sure, I post on social media often. You’ve seen my humor. You’ve seen my books. Hell, you’ve recently seen me going through a separation.

But I haven’t shared my background yet…and the reasons I write my stories the way I write them. Every single book I write has a journey. And every single book has a bit of me in the heroine. It may be a large part—like Auden in DELAYED PENALTY—or a small part—like Gaby in POWER PLAY. But all of them have tiny bits of my story or personality weaved through. It brings authenticity to my writing. A realism that may be different in the genre I write in.

So here’s a REAL, heavy post for you. I thought that maybe if I shared my story, it might help others—even one person—and opening up would be worth it. Maybe this will help more people connect with my books (and with me) and make others see why I like to keep positive and be kind to people. You never really know what someone else has been through, right?

So here it goes...

I was abandoned by my “father” (sperm donor) before I was four years old. Left. Adios. Never to be heard from again. I had the “normal” questions. Why? What made him leave? What went wrong? I know he went on to have another family--that he stayed with. So why didn't he want to be part of my life? In my head, the only answer was ever ME. It was my fault. Something was wrong with me. I wasn't good enough. Before the age of four, I learned that men will leave me. Without a word, without an explanation.

My mother was shot and killed right in front of me when I was six-years-old. Yes, right in front of me. As a child, unable to fully comprehend death, I learned that relationships are not permanent. I grew up a walking contradiction. A person who desperately wanted to be loved and committed to, but I wouldn't allow anyone to get too close because I believed everyone I loved would leave me someday. Why put myself out there to relationships? Even to friendships?

I was sexually abused by a family member before the age of eight (I honestly don't know the exact age, as my brain has permanently blocked it). I have only ever told four people that in person. I confided in the adult I trusted most right after it happened. The advice was: “Stay away from him.” I don’t know if anything happened after that; if there was even a confrontation or a discussion with my abuser. I consider myself "lucky" as it was only once. My heart bleeds for the people who had to endure that hell multiple times.

What I learned was to be afraid of men after that. I refused to be alone with a man, even my guardian, whom—I want to make perfectly clear—never touched me. I learned that after a few years the whole thing must have “blown over” for anyone who knew, because I was forced to interact with my abuser and his family when he came to town. And I did it, because I was enough of a burden and troublemaker for my guardians, why cause more anxiety?

But what I also learned was that no one was going to protect me--even if I spoke up. No one was going to save me. So I withdrew. And I got angry. And I grew a tough layer that I refused to let people poke through for most of my life. Because trusting people caused humiliation, shame and pain.

People have called me a bitch because I’m quiet when I first meet others. People have said they didn’t think I liked them because I don’t open up easily. People have criticized my parenting. But they don’t know that I don’t have a mom to call and ask for advice. And if they do, well that’s a kick in the she-balls, isn’t it?

I can’t change what people think, but I wish they wouldn’t be so quick to judge. They don’t know that I've battled anxiety and depression since I was a child. They don’t know that I still weep for the advice of a mother that I never knew. They don't know that I don't think that I'm worthy of being loved. They don't know that I still  battle with shitty self-esteem and horrible trust problems.

I’m much older now, but the pain of my past is there, a wound that throbs every once in awhile, like the soccer-related knee injury I complain about on rainy days. 

I’m not sharing this for pity—or attention. I’m sharing because the issues I write about in my heroines are REAL. I know how Auden feels about being a motherless daughter, being abandoned, and being a burden to her caregivers. Like Gaby, I have experienced the shame and humiliation and embarrassment of getting drunk at a college party and being raped.

Some people are quick to judge, but you never know what someone has gone through or is currently going through. The most put-together, seemingly happy person can have a past so dark you wouldn’t believe.

Now, I think I blend in for the most part. If  you ignore the nose piercing and pink hair--I look like any other woman at the local coffee shop. I was married to a good guy. I have two gorgeous kids. I rent a beautiful house in a nice, safe neighborhood. Before I chose to stay home to raise my kids—and write books—I had a managerial position in the corporate world making $50K+ a year--the "breadwinner" of my family at the time.

But by the time I was six, I thought that everyone I loved would abandon me. And by the time I was eight, I thought that anyone I trusted would hurt and humiliate me. Those “truths” shaped my adult persona. As anyone can attest, changing deeply ingrained beliefs is difficult, but not impossible.

But I’m trying—every fucking day. With every day that passes, I continue to grow, learn, and flip those old "truths" into new truths. I’ve finally found friends I can confide in, people who appreciate me for who I really am. I REFUSE to be a victim or use my childhood as an excuse. I choose to be the light. One of my favorite lines I've ever written was in UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT: "I just want to be the light that someone will remember long after I'm gone." That's the mark I want to leave on the world. I hope people in enjoy my books—but my true hope is that I help at least one person with my words, my honesty, my kindness. Love isn't hard.

In telling my story, here and through my characters, I hope we all learn to be a little less judgmental. That we should give people a break. It’s true that “our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for what we become.” (Author Unknown) And that we can become anything, no matter what circumstances defined us in the beginning of our lives.

Have you had to—or wanted to—confront anything from your past? I’m always inspired by stories of bravery. I want to hear your stories. I want to write our stories! Comment below—or send me an e-mail—as I know not everyone wants to be as public.

KEEP FIGHTING! You're not alone.

WE DID IT AGAIN!! THANK YOU!

 

I feel like Dora and the gang with that post title, but it's true and I'm dancing around happily to this uber-annoying song!

YOU have helped me reach my goal of donating $500 to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the charity I selected for UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT, in the very first week of the book being on sale!

 

That's the FOURTH time in FOUR books releases that I've been able to make my donation within the first week of release! That is so unbelievably spectacular!! I don't have the words to express how humbled and grateful I am to each one of you. 
 

THANK YOU!!! 

 

Sometimes I think: How can I --one tiny human being on this gigantic planet--make a noticeable  change in the world? Then I realized, I may not be able to make major changes, but if I can make a small impact to those around me--and help others make a small impact--we WILL see that. Someone WILL benefit from that.

We can't give up. We can't surrender. We can't stop because it's too hard or because we can't see the impact. It's happening. And if more and more of us make our small contributions we WILL see the larger impact. Our children WILL see it. We WILL be able to say that we had a hand in making the world a better place. Just by being a good person. A compassionate person. 

You don't need to have a lot of money. You just need to have the drive. And the heart. And the vision to support people who are working for good. 

Even if it's just buying a book. Or downloading a song. Or buying a certain brand because they give a portion of proceeds back to something. 

You are making a difference. You are helping. You are a super hero!

 

"To every single person who lives their life with love, respect, and compassion for all.

We can change the world. Together. #BeKindLoveHard"

~From the UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT Dedication Page