Au Revoir, 2015

I’ve been planning an end of the year post for a while, but after these past few weeks, I really felt like I needed to wrap up what has been one of the most difficult years of my life.

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The first half of 2015 was mentally exhausting. My relationship with my husband was not in the best place (although we were still working at it) and I was overwhelmed by writing and working full time. I wasn’t taking care of myself mentally or physically and it was taking its toll. I was struggling with anxiety and depression and feeling completely overwhelmed and out of control.

When Mr. Vaughn and I split in July, it was the most awful moment of my life.

I wanted to keep working on my marriage, but when that stopped being a possibility I realized I had two options. I could crawl under the covers and give up, or use this as an opportunity to start from scratch.  I chose the latter, and I’m so glad I did.

I quit my day job, moved in with my parents, began seeing a therapist, and starting walking and going to yoga regularly.

I made a plan and I’ve worked really hard at it. Not everything’s gone exactly as planned, of course. My emotional exhaustion made it more difficult for me to write than I expected. Settling into a new house/routine took longer than I hoped. I have a long way to go when it comes to figuring out time management and writing organization.

But I feel good.

I feel mentally solid. There are still rough days, but the worst of it is behind me. I feel healthier and more confident. I’ve lost 35 pounds and increased my balance and flexibility. I’ve gone on a few dates which was weird but good. I’ve spent a lot of time with friends. I’ve realized I actually enjoy going out now that I’m not exhausted and overwhelmed. I released “Connection” in October and “Trust” will be out in late January. I started a facebook group for fans and am putting together a newsletter.

Best of all, I feel like I’m in control of my life again.

A few days ago I met with the soon-to-be ex Mr. Vaughn. It was hard. It was the first time we’d seen each other since I moved out at the end of August. The meeting was sort of spur-of-the-moment. But after talking for about an hour or so, it became very clear that it was something we’d needed to do before we could take that final step. We still love each other. We miss each other a lot. But when it comes right down to it, we aren’t the best people for each other anymore. The thought makes me sad. Letting go and moving on is hard. It hurts so very much. Maybe there was a point somewhere along the way that we could have fixed things. We’ll never really know. But we both know we’re long past that point.  We ended the conversation knowing that when we have the final divorce hearing in a few weeks, it’ll be the right decision.

Best of all, we went out to dinner after. Just as friends. No anger. No tears (although a few threatened and I had to gulp down ice water to steady myself). There are conversational minefields we have to avoid for now. Some things are still too raw. But there was laughter.  And when he hugged me goodbye at the end of the evening it felt good. It felt like the way things were supposed to be. It makes me unbearably sad to know that he’s not going to be my husband anymore. But it feels really good to know that he’ll be my friend.

I’m ready to say goodbye to 2015. Last year, when 2015 started I thought it was going to be a fantastic year. I was wrong. It was hard, painful, and emotionally exhausting. I don’t ever want another year like that again.

But maybe it was exactly what I needed.

So bring on 2016. I’m doing my best to be ready for you, whatever you bring. But could you maybe go a little easy on me? I’m strong. I’m healing. But I’m a little bruised and battered and I sure would appreciate it if you took that into consideration.

Please.


 

Edited because holy typos, Batman.  I don’t know WHAT happened with the weird repeating paragraph. LOL. Sorry about that.

 

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“Trust” Takes Time

I’ve had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach for the last few weeks. The closer I get to the release date for “Trust”, the worse it gets.

I’ll be perfectly frank; I rushed the release for “Connection”. The story itself was solid, but I didn’t focus enough on promotion and my sales reflected that. I honestly believe a few more weeks of planning could have made a big difference.

This new reality of writing full time is an adjustment. It means stepping up my game as an author. Working harder, learning more, planning better.

I’ve been feeling under the weather since last week and spent the last couple of days in bed feeling like death warmed over. My betas have been busting their butts to get “Trust” back to me, but life happens and it took everyone a bit longer than planned.  Now that I’m well again I could rush through edits and probably get it done in time. I could probably even do a good job of it, but there’s always the risk I’d cut a corner I shouldn’t. I don’t want to do a good job, I want to do a great job.

 

There’s a lot more to writing than just getting words on paper. Especially when self-publishing. Most of it happens behind the scenes.  Where I update the backmatter in my books so readers can see what else I have to offer. When I plan promotions and connect with review blogs. If I don’t work at that, no one will be there to read my work.

I don’t mind it at all and I am happy to do the work. Hell, the most frustrating day as a writer still beats the best day at my former day job, but it does require an enormous amount of planning and time.

In light of that, the release date of “Trust” is going to be pushed back by a few weeks. I had planned to release it on December 30th. The new date will be January 28th.

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I hate the delay. I am so excited about this story and I want all of you to read and enjoy it.  But I don’t want to cut corners on either end of things. I don’t want to rush through edits and put out a story I’m not 100% confident about. And I don’t want to release it without being sure that it gets to as many readers as possible.

So I’m trusting my gut and giving myself a few extra weeks to get this book in order.

My deepest apologies to those of you who have been anxiously waiting for “Trust” to come out. I promise I’ll do everything I can to make it worth the wait.

 

 

 

Brigham’s Recommendations – “Rain Shadow” by L.A. Witt

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Summary:

Jeremy Rose came to Bluewater Bay to work as Anna Maxwell’s bodyguard, not to escape his increasingly bitter relationship with his estranged kids. He just wants to focus on his job and be alone for a while. He’s done with love, especially now that three years after his long overdue divorce, he’s got a front-row seat to the rapid deterioration between Anna and her girlfriend. Cynical doesn’t even begin to describe him.

Then Anna and Leigh’s attempts to reconcile put him in the crosshairs of marriage counselor Scott Fletcher. Scott’s exactly what Jeremy needs right now: gorgeous, hot, horny, single, and 100% uninterested in a relationship. The problem is, too much no-strings-attached sex — and too much time in each other’s company — inevitably builds emotional connection.

Except Jeremy refuses to seek counseling for his broken family, and Scott refuses to get seriously involved with men who work dangerous jobs. They both need to realize they can only hide for so long from the pain they came here to escape. They must face their pasts before they lose their shot at a happy future.

Review:

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to review any of the books in the “Bluewater Bay” series. I enjoy them thoroughly and the fact that L.A. Witt wrote several of them is a definite selling point. So before I say anything else, let me say, GO READ THE SERIES.

I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this book is that the characters weren’t kids. Jeremy Rose and Scott Fletcher are men with pasts. They have chips on their shoulders and years of struggle they endured long before they ever met.

After a bitter divorce and working as a bodyguard for Anna Maxwell—a producer in a rocky relationship of her own—Jeremy has a dim view of relationships.  Scott is a marriage counselor who has spent years seeing patients in relationships that are falling apart and has a history with men who work dangerous jobs. In fact, they both hate each other’s jobs, which creates tension between them.

Initially, they’re convinced that a no-strings-attached hook up is the answer to their problems. Neither man is looking for a relationship, but the more time they spend together the closer they become. The book was entirely from Jeremy’s POV, but it was amusing to watch them both deny the growing connection.

The characters were stubborn and interestingly flawed. In particular, Jeremy’s struggle to see what was right in front of him stood out to me. Although at first it seemed impossible that anyone had that big of a lack of self-awareness—in particular about their own sexuality and feelings—a pattern began to develop. It was an interesting character flaw and it was his acknowledgement of that and willingness to admit when he was wrong that made him an appealing character.  I like characters with an interesting emotional development and I feel like that’s something L.A. Witt excels at. Every book of hers that I’ve read contains a very clear emotional arc throughout the story.

I liked the way Scott’s history and current job impacted their relationship, and that Jeremy had a lot of work to do fixing things with his relationship with his kids. The solution at the end was plausible and well-thought out and gave a nice feeling of hope for all of their futures.

My only complaint about the story was that the climax felt a little rushed. Scott becomes upset at Jeremy and it seems rather out of the blue. I am not sure that would have been the case if we’d seen the story from both POVs, but I would have liked a smidge more build up since we were limited to Jeremy’s POV.

Overall though, I enjoyed the story and the relationship the characters had.  As always, L.A. Witt’s smutty scenes were hot as hell and the characters had fantastic chemistry. This was a thoroughly enjoyable story in a series I can’t stop buying and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Buy Links:

Amazon

Riptide Publishing

Exciting News

I have two bits of exciting news for you today.

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First, “Equals” will be translated into Italian! I was pleased and flattered when Francesca of Francy and Alex Translation contacted me about translating the first book in the series into Italian. They came highly recommended by authors who had worked with them previously and, so far, they have been wonderful to work with!

I am very excited that my books will be reaching a wider audience *waves at the Italian-speaking readers* and am looking forward to the experience.

The book will be released in the spring of 2016.

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My second announcement is that I started a Facebook group for fans of my writing!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/brighamsbooknerds/

My goal is to make it a fun place to receive updates, ask questions, post pictures, and most importantly, discuss books! I’ve already shared a teaser from my upcoming novel “Trust” and an exclusive preview of the cover.

Please join us! I look forward to seeing you there.

Flash Fiction Monday – Falling For You

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They’d been hiking for days. The trip began with a torrential downpour that led to their tent and half their supplies being washed away in a flash flood on the first night and it disintegrated from there as the heat and insect swarms grew worse. The map, compass, and bug spray had all been lost and both of their moods had quickly deteriorated as the days passed.

All they had going for them was that their food had been hanging from a tree when the water swept through, so they weren’t starving, although they’d had to ration the food in case the worst case scenario happened and they got lost or it took longer for them to reach civilization than they planned.

The worst case scenario had happened.

It was a shitty way to spend their thirtieth anniversary.  Sure, they’d never really bothered with a marriage license or any of that, but this weekend was exactly thirty years since Stanton saw Ward bent over a pool table, trying to make an impossible shot.  He’d frozen, beer bottle still at his lips, at the sight of the stranger’s lean back muscles rippling under the black T-shirt he wore. The crack of the 8 ball had felt like a starter pistol, jolting Stanton’s heart into an uneven rhythm. And when Ward had turned and caught his glance with those blue, blue eyes? Stanton was a goner.

Now, he stared at that same back—mostly hidden by the pack on his back—as Ward walked ahead of him on the trail. The shoulders were a little wider now, the waist a little thicker, but Stanton would recognize it anywhere. Even when it was tense with anger.

They hadn’t spoken in hours after a stupid ass fight about whether or not Ward had managed to get a message through on the satellite phone and if they should stay put or keep going. Ward had opted to keep going and Stanton had been stewing for a couple of miles as he tromped behind. His feet hurt, his back ached, his stomach rumbled, and he probably looked—and smelled—like a mangy dog. But the memories of their first night together—a blur of hard fucking and soft kisses—had blunted his anger.

As he opened his mouth to tease Ward about something to break the foul mood, the soft, muddy ground beneath Ward’s feet gave way. For one heart-stopping second he was frozen in mid-air, and then he was gone.

“Ward!” Stanton bellowed, terror tightening his voice as he dropped to the ground and inched forward.  His stomach churned as he reached the edge and looked over, his heart thumping with fear that he’d see his lover’s mangled body on the rocks below. Instead his was met with the sight of Ward’s anxious blue eyes peering up at him from a mud-streaked face. He clung to a tree root, his knuckles white with tension.

“Thank fuck,” Stanton whispered, carefully working his pack off before bracing himself and reaching down.

“Help me,” Ward pleaded, his voice shaking.

“Just grab my hand,” Stanton coaxed. “Brace your legs against the side and I’ll pull you up. Trust me.”

Ward froze for a moment, then carefully loosened one hand and stretched it up to Stanton.  His knuckles were bleeding and his face was white and stricken.  Their fingers slipped at first—Ward’s skin slick with mud and sweat—but eventually they got a solid grip on each other. Inch by inch, Stanton’s muscles screaming with agony at the strain, he pulled his lover up.

They fell to the earth, scrabbling through the dirt and vegetation to get further away from the edge. Stanton collapsed on Ward’s chest, feeling their hearts thumping in an erratic rhythm.

Breathing hard, Stanton closed his eyes and rested his forehead against Ward’s chin. The soft scratch of his facial hair tickled the skin there and the warm puff of his breath was reassuring.

“Don’t ever fucking do that to me again,” Stanton said through gritted teeth. “Never, you hear me?”

“What’ll you do if I mess up again?” Ward asked softly, a hint of a smile in his voice. Stanton claimed his lover’s mouth in a hard, angry kiss. The familiarity and relief made his eyes water.

After he’d reassured himself that Ward was safe, he rose up on his elbows and looked down into the face of the man he’d nearly lost.

“Push you off the damn cliff myself,” he said with a growl.


I went a little over the word count again, but it’s very hard to push someone over a cliff and rescue them in fewer words!

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Brigham’s Recommendations – Scenes from Adelaide Road by Helena Stone

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Summary:

Can a young man find the courage he never knew he had when faced with losing everything he holds dear?

A few months before his final exams in secondary school, nineteen-year-old Lennart Kelly discovers he’s inherited a house on Adelaide Road in Dublin from a grandfather he never knew. Having been ignored, bullied and abused for as long as he can remember, Lennart can’t wait to leave behind his father and the small town he grew up in. Moving away as soon as he finishes his exams doesn’t cure his deep-rooted insecurities though.

Meeting twenty-three-year-old Aidan Cassidy in a gay club on his second night in Dublin, scares Lennart. Used to being ignored and ridiculed, he doesn’t trust the attention he receives and can’t believe a man like Aidan could possibly be interested in him. It takes infinite patience and understanding from Aidan to slowly coax Lennart out of his shell.

But the past refuses to stay where it belongs and Lennart’s father is determined to take the house in Dublin off his son by whatever means necessary. Just when Lennart is learning to trust and embrace life, a violent attack threatens everything he holds dear. Suddenly Lennart is in danger of losing his house, the man he’s grown to love and maybe even his life. If Lennart wants to protect Aidan and safeguard his future, he’ll have to find the courage he never knew he had.

Excerpt:

“Are you ready?”

I frowned at myself in the mirror. I looked ridiculous and couldn’t believe I intended to go out dressed like this. Aidan had been messing with my hair until it fell any which way, with one or two tuffs sticking up to accentuate the disorganisation. I scowled at the white shirt, grey jumper and yellow and burgundy tie.

“Hey, did you hear me?”

Aidan appeared behind me in the mirror and grinned. Trust him to look great. Dressed in identical outfits we should have looked the same. Yet here I was, a prime example of the ultimate dork, while Aidan, as always, looked hot as hell. The added dark rimmed glasses and the scar he’d painted on his forehead accentuated his cuteness and made me want to jump him there and then and forget about the evening ahead of us.

“I look like a bloody eejit. Why did I allow you to talk me into this?”

“You love me.” His grin grew wicked and I couldn’t help returning it.

“Yeah, I do. Sometimes I wonder if I don’t love you too much.”

“Come on. Stop moaning.” Aidan punched me lightly. “It will be fun. What’s not to like about a night out dressed up as Harry and Ron?”

“Going out as ourselves?” I raised an eyebrow at him before frowning at our costumes again.

“Stop sulking. We’ll have fun. The whole town is going to be dressed up tonight. Besides, I can’t go out with the lads from work and not wear a costume. Trust me, you got off light.”

I nodded and smiled. Old habits apparently died hard but I was more than ready to embrace another new experience. I’d be a fool to spoil my first ever night out with the lads with my sulky behaviour.

* * * *

At the restaurant, Larry, Aidan’s manager, smiled at us when we reached the table. “Here we have Gryffindorians. Great outfits, lads, although it does remind me of this fan fiction my wife is forever talking about and reading. I’m not sure I want that image in my head right now.”

My cheeks flamed up to match the colour of my hair as some of Aidan’s colleagues burst out laughing while others clearly had no idea what Larry meant. I did. I’d read some of those stories online and one quick glance at Aidan told me he had as well and that he’d had those very stories in mind when he’d suggested our costumes.

“Cockus Engorgio.” Aidan smirked at me as he whispered the words while we sat down and damn if his words didn’t have exactly that effect on me. I said a silent prayer of thanks for the tablecloth covering my crotch as I tried to ignore his still sniggering colleagues.

Review:

I read “Scenes from Adelaide Road” twice. Once as a beta reader and again yesterday, both to make sure I had read the most up-to-date version and refresh my memory, and because it was a lovely story worth reading again.

The one thing that struck me both times I read this story was how sweet it was. Not that Lennart and Aidan didn’t have some very  serious, weighty issues to deal with, but their innate goodness and sweetness together shines through. This isn’t a light or frivolous story by any means, but there’s just the right amount of humor and well, romance, to balance those weighty issues.

Seeing the delights of new love and a first relationship are so joyful through Lennart’s eyes and his wonder about everything is very sweet.  Although he’s plagued by insecurity and doubts, his enjoyment of the newness of it all is wonderful.

Lennart can be a bit frustrating–at times I wanted to shake him–and I can’t say enough about Aidan’s patience with him. But the dynamic between them seemed very natural and realistic.

Lennart’s journey from beginning to end is more profound than Aidan’s, but there is no question that they both grow as men throughout the story.  The backstory about Lennart’s family  is fascinating (and should Helena ever want to write the story of Lennart’s grandfather and HIS relationships, I would dearly love it).

The complexity of his relationship with Lennart’s father, and thus Lennart’s father’s interactions with Lennart played such an interesting role in the story. I loved the setting of Dublin and the way it–and Adelaide Road and Lennart’s grandfather’s house–had their parts to play in the story as well.

This is a beautiful story of first love and emotional growth and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Buy Links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Pride Publishing

About the Author and Contact Info:

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Helena Stone can’t remember a life before words and reading. After growing up in a household where no holiday or festivity was complete without at least one new book, it’s hardly surprising she now owns more books than shelf space while her Kindle is about to explode.

The urge to write came as a surprise. The realisation that people might enjoy her words was a shock to say the least. Now that the writing bug has well and truly taken hold, Helena can no longer imagine not sharing the characters in her head and heart with the rest of the world.

Having left the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for the peace and quiet of the Irish Country side she divides her time between reading, writing, long and often wet walks with the dog, her part-time job in a library, a grown-up daughter and her ever loving and patient husband.

Helena can be found in the following places:

Author website      GoodReads   Facebook     Twitter         Pinterest