Saturday, March 31, 2012

We're all gonna die! (Or the Armageddon Alphabet) #atozchallenge

Hello, beautiful people!

I think it's safe to say that I failed on 30 Days of Fade. I'm sorry for that. Sometimes, life throws you curveballs and you just can't keep up. That said, I've learned absolutely nothing from my failure and have been talked into doing the A to Z challenge in April!

"The wha?" you ask.



The A to Z Challenge

The A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (excluding every Sunday except the 1st), participants write a post on a topic that surrounds a specific letter of the alphabet. The 1st we'll write posts centered around the letter A or on A words. The 2nd, we do B, and so on and so forth until we've made it through the entire alphabet.

But wait! Because I'm an action-movie loving, giant-death-cloud cheering, potentially insane but still-kinda-freaking-loveable person, I've decided to take it a step further and center the entire challenge around...

*insert mysterious music here*

End-of-the-world scenarios.

Yep! We're talking armageddon scenarios all month long, and we're doing it by letter. It's the Armageddon Alphabet!

I'm not telling you in advance what scenarios we'll be discussing, but you can expect each scenario to begin with the corresponding letter. On the 1st, our scenario will be an A letter, on the 2nd it'll be a B, and so on and so forth until we've made it through the alphabet and you have 26 new ways you don't wanna die, in alphabetical order.

You can sign on to join our crazy quest here, or just check back all month long for my Armageddon Alphabet posts. They'll be marked as #atozchallenge in the title so they're easily found.

Easy enough, yes?

I thought so!

And don't forget! I'll be participating in the Hoppy Easter Blog Hop April 6th through 8th, and one lucky commenter will win an ebook copy of Fade upon release. Yay, right?!

smooches and smooshes,
A.K.M. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

You're not a writer

The Husbinator and I sat down and watched the first part of Stephen King's Bag of Bones tonight. It's about a popular author being haunted by the ghost of a blue's singer when he relocates after the death of his wife. He's been struggling with writer's block since his wife died, and at one point in the movie, he gets so frustrated that he screams at the laptop, "Just give me something!".

As soon as he screamed, The Husbinator gave me one of those, "I know you can relate to that feeling" looks. You see, The Husbinator knows that I'm having the same problem. I've been having the same problem for the last year.

When I got sick last January, a lot changed in my life. I went from sleeping 4 or 5 hours a night, to sleeping 9 or 10 and still being tired. I went from remembering exactly what the entire family had to do and when, to writing down everything just to remember my own schedule. I also went from writing every single day, to being lucky if I can find words once a week.

In the last year, I've had to face the reality that there just isn't such a thing as getting back to normal. Once normal is gone, it's gone. You can't get back to life just as it was "before" because life has changed. Whatever dragged you off course can't be tucked into a back corner and forgotten completely because, like it or not, it's still there, and it still happened.

For me, facing reality has meant sacrificing what I want for what I need. I learned that in a big way in October. I was so tired of walking when I wanted to run that I pushed myself too hard, and I paid for it. I ended up being rushed to the emergency room unconscious. I'd exhausted myself trying to do too much, and when a bad migraine hit, my body just couldn't handle it with everything else it was fighting. It scared the crap out of my friends and family, and forced me to wake up and realize that what I want can't always come first.

I want to sit down every day and write a thousand words. But I can't do that because what I need is a little brown pill that keeps me healthy at the expense of my cognitive and psychomotor function. That's meant a lot of changes in my life in the last year.

No matter how much I sleep now, I still tire easily. I can't sit down to write, get interrupted, and pick up right where I left off anymore. Nor can I sit down to write, and write three thousand words with ease. I forget a lot. I make mistakes like pouring carpet cleaning solution into the washer instead of laundry detergent, or writing the same sentence three times in a row. I can't remember certain words without looking them up, and I have to plot everything in detail. I have to concentrate hard on simple tasks like walking some days, and I still stumble and mess them up. I want to say things sometimes, but when I open my mouth, nothing at all comes out, or it comes out sounding like gibberish. I wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea, only to fall back to sleep against my will. When I wake up again, the idea is gone.

It's frustrating, and there have been plenty of times where I've wanted to scream at my brain to "just give me something." There have been times when I've gotten so frustrated because the words were right there that I have yelled at the computer, or tossed my pen across the room.There have been days where I've cried because nothing at all would come out when I opened my mouth to speak.

I don't read as much now as I did then, because I can't concentrate on the story as easily, or remember what I've read when I have to put it down for a while. And I don't write as much anymore either. In fact, I don't write much anymore. I sit down every day to write, but more often than not, I spend that time staring at a blank page.

The last year has been a lesson in patience and acceptance. I've had to learn entirely new ways of doing things. I've had to face the reality that I have limits, and that those limits are a lot more restricting now than they were a year ago.

I've not always learned those lessons or faced that reality gracefully. My brain doesn't work quite as well now as it did before, and that frustrates me. It makes me feel weak, and that frustrates me, too.

There have been times when I've wanted to throw my hands up and give up. A little niggling voice likes to ask how I can possibly call myself a writer when I can't even write most days. On particularly bad days, I have no answer to that question. I think, "You’re right. I should just give up and spare myself the frustration."

But the thing is, even on particularly bad days, I'm still me. I'm still the girl who talks too much, giggles a lot, and likes it when things explode. I'm still the girl who believes elves make all the cool stuff, and dragonflies are really fairy taxis. And I'm still the girl who loves the way it feels to sit down and coax the story that's whispering around in my mind out into the open.

It may take longer now, and it may not always go so well. I may spend more time looking up words than writing them anymore, and half of what I write may be destined for a dusty corner labeled "Never Publish", but I'm still a writer, and I'll only stop being a writer when I choose to stop writing.

That hasn't happened yet, and I doubt that it will because, no matter how frustrating it is to sit down and realize that the words just won't come, the days when they do come are just too homey and comfortable. Those days make the others worth it. They also remind me that practice makes perfect.

No one sits down and writes a perfect novel on the first attempt. Most don't even write one on the second or third or fourth attempt. And that's okay. None of us are writers because we write novels or even because we write every day. We're writers because we can't imagine not writing. Whether the words come easily, or we find ourselves fighting for every single one, we're still writers. And we'll keep being writers because, even on particularly bad days when that little niggling voice whispers the loudest, we still find ourselves sitting down to try again.

There will be days when no words come, or when every word that comes is awful. That's part of what makes writing so rewarding. So whether you're writing today or you're cursing a blank screen for the eighth day in a row, you're still a writer.

It may not be easy, but it is worth it, and you can do it.

And so can I.

My name is Ayden, and I'm on day eighteen.

Goonies never say die,
A.K.M. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Trayvon Martin and the Reality of YA Novels

I could tell you the entire story of what I've been doing that's kept me from blogging in the last few days, but it's a long and involved story, so we're going to skip right over that for the moment. In what little free-time I've had lately, I've been following the Trayvon Martin case closely. It's heartbreaking.

For those not familiar with the case, in late February, seventeen-year-old Martin was shot and killed after leaving a convenience store. The twenty-eight year old man who shot him, George Zimmerman, claims the shooting was self-defense.

Martin's girlfriend, who was on the phone with him immediately before the shooting, says that's not true. Martin was trying to get away from Zimmerman when he realized that Zimmerman was following him. When he ran, Zimmerman followed him and a confrontation ensued. Martin was unarmed, and was eventually shot by Zimmerman during the course of the confrontation.

There has been a lot of coverage on the case, and a lot of controversy surrounding the case because of Zimmerman's self defense claim. A lot of people are arguing that it's not legal to use deadly force against an unarmed individual. That's not true, at least not in Florida. In Florida, the Stand Your Ground law allows you to use deadly force to protect yourself if you feel that you (or someone else) are in imminent danger of serious harm. It doesn't matter if the individual you fear has a weapon or not.

So, the question has become less if Zimmerman had a right to use deadly force, and more if it was really self defense.

Personally, I can see both sides of the issue here. If I'm being chased by someone I don't know, I'm going to be scared. If that individual then approaches me, I'm probably not going to be particularly reasonable when it comes to listening to his rationale for following me, or to anything else he has to say. I'm going to do what I need to do to get away...just like I was taught to do by every single case that ends with someone just like me being kidnapped or robbed in just such a situation.

At the same time though, we've got Zimmerman in a similar situation. He thinks he’s following a suspicious person up to no good. Adrenaline is already high, and then Martin runs, confirming in Zimmerman’s mind that he’s guilty of something. If he then catches up to Martin, already fearing that Martin is a criminal, and Martin takes a swing, fearing that Zimmerman means him harm, the situation can quickly spiral into what we’ve seen in this case.

Neither Martin nor Zimmerman was in a mind-set conducive to rational decision-making, and a tragedy occurred as a result. Whether Zimmerman is eventually charged with the murder or not, it's a sad situation that could have been prevented had Zimmerman simply not pursued Martin when he ran. But hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?   

This case, and the real life situation that's pulled me away from blogging in the last few days, has had me thinking a lot about the realities of being a teenager and how that plays out in young adult fiction.

We see a lot of love triangles and bullying in popular young adult novels, but at first glance, we don't see a lot of issues like this in those same novels. That is to say, you're probably not going to find ordinary teen Trayvon Martin getting shot and killed by ordinary adult George Zimmerman in the pages of a popular young adult novel.

Look deeper though, and you will find a slew of popular YA novels peppered with similar situations that play out in subtle and unique ways. In Harry Potter, for instance, Harry deals with evil deeds (including murder) perpetrated by adults, as well as the resultant community backlash and fear. He and his friends also deal with racism in the form of the hatred of mudbloods and muggles that Voldemort’s followers display. In the Mortal Instruments series, Clary deals with parental abuse (verbal and mental abuse at the very least) and murder committed by her father, while Jace deals with manipulation by an adult. In the Hush, Hush series, Nora deals with the consequences of her parents’ lies, the murder of her father, and parental abuse. In Twilight, Bella deals with the manipulation and machinations of Jacob, teen pregnancy, and physical abuse and torture. In Shiver, Grace deals with the consequences of neglect at the hands of her parents.

Each of these novels is steeped in extraordinary circumstances, but at the heart of each is a grim or tragic situation that’s not that much different than the frightening things young adults see and experience now. Whether it’s losing a friend in a shooting, watching a young friend become a parent, or dealing with racism, abuse, or sexual assault, popular YA novels deal with the grim realities of life in spades. They just do it a little differently.

That’s one of the things that draw a lot of readers my age to YA novels: they deal with reality in unique ways.

I’m twenty-eight. I have no clue what it’s like to be thirty-five, a single parent, and trying to juggle a new relationship, a kid, and a career. I just finished grad school. I have no clue what it’s like to have a career threatened by some villain, or to be in charge of a multi-million dollar corporation. Or to be divorced, take care of ailing parents, or find out my husband’s become embroiled in a scandalous affair. But I do know what it’s like to be fourteen and find out a friend has been murdered, or to be fifteen and hear that a friend is going to prison for murder. I know what it’s like to deal with the issues teens in YA novels face because, if I haven’t been there, I know someone who has. And I don’t need these situations to be blatant or in your face to understand them. I can pick up any newspaper, any day of the week, and find that. So can any teen.

YA may deal with the same situations we see on the news every day, but the authors do it in just the right way to keep teens (and readers like me) engaged. Their stories blend reality with imagination in a way that gives you the people and situations you know, but the HEA you crave. So we may never see Trayvon Martin’s heartbreaking story in a bestselling YA novel, but we will certainly see teens like Trayvon Martin facing difficult decisions and life-changing situations, because those are the teens we know, and the situations they face. And, I think, because those are the teens we wish had been given a real-life HEA. 

But then again, that might just be me. ;)  

Your ever-hopeful author,
A.K.M.

Monday, March 19, 2012

For every question, there is a story.

The Husbinator and I just watched The Bang Bang Club (worth watching, by the way), and it got me to thinking about photographs and something Henry David Thoreau said.

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."  ~Henry David Thoreau

Photographs are incredibly inspiring to me, so they often play an important role in my writing. You can bet that if there's a story, there's a photograph, or a piece of art, that brought it to life in my mind.

I don't know a whole lot about art though, so writing has become something of a learning process for me. Instead of going for an obvious painting or photograph when I need a little inspiration, I like to spend a little time looking through photographs or art to see what sparks the imagination. I've come across some really amazing art and photographs as a result of those forrays.

I found this painting (below) a couple of years ago during research for Fade, and fell in love with it. Ari is a history lover, and when I saw this, I just knew it was something that would capture her interest, too. It has a very mysterious, reverent feel to it, I think. She mentions it in a playful manner, but the feel of the painting fits what she's talking about, even so. At least, I think it does. :)


Anasazi Noble Spirit Guardian by Kendall Davenport

As far as photographs go, I have a tendency to save or bookmark any that capture my imagination, so I have about a million that I absolutely adore. One of my favorite things about my friends is how often they send me pictures, too. Every time they come across one that reminds them of me or that they think I would like, they send it my way. It works out well. :)

My favorites are always the sadder or somber photographs and images. I think that's because they're always the one's that have a story behind them. With those photographs, as Thoreau said, it's not what we're looking at that matters, but what we're seeing.  

In Just Married, Ashton's character's father says something that, paraphrased, means life is what happens between the happy photographs. I think that is very true. A happy ending in a book or movie, for instance, is always that much sweeter when the characters have had to fight for it. Sad or reflective photographs capture the moments that get us to that happy ending. They're also the ones that allow us to relate to others.

We might never know, for instance, what it feels like to win an Academy Award, dance on Broadway, or skydive over the desert, but we do know what it's like to fight for our dreams, to have bad days, or to be a little sad at times. The images that capture those moments speak to us, because we can relate, and we want to know more. Why is he crying? Who's eyes are we seeing that tree from? What is that wolf thinking? What drove her to that point? How is he going to overcome whatever it is that got him there?

We see a world of possibilities in those photographs because there is a question lurking in there somewhere, begging to be answered. The story that answers that question may be sad, triumphant, bitter, or bittersweet. There's a million things it may be if we look deeply enough, and even if none of them ever come close to the reality of the image, we still walk away feeling as if we've related to the subject in some small way.

That's inspiring, don't you think?


This one, by Jimmy Carroll, makes me so sad.



This one makes me sad, too. I want to hug him.


I love this one.

Very somber.


Inspiration is all around us, every day. Where does yours come from?
xoxo,
A.K.M.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Breathe Green

Everything is starting to bloom here, and Little Rock is a riot of green. When the wind blows, cottonwood blooms twirl around like little spring snowflakes, and cover everything in sight. The smell of spring is definitely in the air. So is pollen. And by pollen in the air, I mean OMG, I can't breathe without choking on the stuff. My poor cherry red car is this horrid yellowish green color now, as is my driveway, the roads, storefront windows, my balcony, etc.

Spring in the South always sounds so much nicer on paper and television than it is in reality. Don't get me wrong, it's absolutely beautiful here this time of year. The trees are bursting into life again all over the city. We live in an apartment overlooking the river, the valley, and downtown Little Rock, and it's amazing to step outside when spring takes hold and look around. Where everything was bare just a month ago, it's now bright, lush green for miles. The state capital is this bright white spot in a sea of green now. I just love that.

The Keeper of the Cheerios, the mom, the kiddos, and I spent most of the day outside today, celebrating the green. We roasted hot dogs and s'mores over the bonfire, and watched the kiddos attempt to shoot apples off of their grandfather's head with little plastic arrows... and a golf club. Because that's how we Arkansans roll. ;)  

And, well, because I'm still suffering from neurosurgeon induced sobriety, and no one in my family has ever been much for drinking, anyway. Given the golf club-apple incident, that's probably a good thing. We get up to enough mischief without raising a pint to toast the Patron Saint of Ireland.

Either way, I think he'd approve of our celebration today. We certainly breathed green today, and isn't that what the day's about, anyway?

We stopped in Beebe this afternoon, and I'm happy to report that it, too, is celebrating the green. The town is a riot of spring color, as are the miles and miles of trees that spread out around the town. It's quite lovely, and I think our wayward hero and heroine would highly approve. It reminded me of how excited I am to get back to work on Fall after my weekend with the kiddos ends tomorrow.

xoxo, 
A.K.M.

P.S.: Happy 21st birthday, Shay! I hope it has been completely amazing for you!

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's a Celebration!

This weekend you got to meet some of the people who make my life the crazy, wonderful thing it is. My wifey, Pika, was one of those people. She told you guys how we met. And then I told you all why I wanted you to get to know them.

What I didn't tell you though, is how very involved Pika has been in my writing life from day one. 

She is actually the one responsible for sending my very first query. I was too nervous to do it, so she hacked into my email and did it for me. She's also the one that poured over the contract with me, spent hours helping me get my thoughts in order when it was time to think about cover art, and has spent two years prereading every word I write, whether it's the first draft or the thousandth.

She's awesome like that, and nothing I write leaves the bat cave without her stamp of approval. She always knows exactly what word I can't think of, exactly what I'm trying to say when it won't come out right, and exactly how to get me to back away from the delete button.

I delete a lot. And by a lot, I mean a lot. When I wrote Rapture, one of my serialized fics, there were chapters that I rewrote ten, fifteen times. She never complained though. She read through every one of them, and when I finally had one right, she'd threaten bodily harm if I touched it again.

I'd be lost without her, and I do mean that. She challenges me to think outside the box, to consider things I'd never have thought of on my own, and to keep plugging along when what I really want to do is set everything I've ever written on fire and get blindingly drunk while it burns.

She also keeps me laughing. She's a Flyers fan, and she hates that the Blackhawks beat them like a drum to take the Stanley Cup in 2010. Jealousy is an ugly thing, wifey. She also loves cookies, Gizmo, Transformers, action movies, pretty boys, nerds, Bitey, MPW, and explosions as much as I do. We never run out of things to talk about, mischief to plot, or things to share with each other, whether it's a new plotline, a song we can dance to, or a good rant over politicians, mean people, or people who drive too slow. 

It's frightening how alike we are, but I am beyond blessed to have her hiding in the bat cave with me.  

Today is her birthday, and I need all of you to help me wish her happy. You can find her on Twitter @pkmarita. When you get a minute, hop over there and tell her how awesome she is. Because she is. And I think today is a great day to tell her that by celebrating her.

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!

So happy, happy birthday, wifey, and thanks for everything. Even though you're a Flyers fan, and you don't like Peeps which makes you completely abnormal and possibly not human, you're the best wifey ever and my life would suck without you. We might not agree on everything like the fact that Jack is awful and should outlawed in favor of Stoli, but you'll always be my wifey, and I will always be grateful for everything you've done for me. #tripodneversaysdie

Sempre, even when the road is hard,
A.K.M.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

She's No Pushover

I said before that one of the things I love most about Fade is the characters. I introduced you to Dace already, but I think it's time to get to know Arionna, don't you?

Arionna is probably the character I can relate to the most. That's not to say I'm anything like her, because, well, she's actually kind of normal and I'm a menace to society. What I mean is that I can understand Arionna.

When her mom dies, she has her entire world turned upside down in one fell swoop. If you've lost someone close to you, you can probably relate to what that's like. If you haven't, you can probably imagine how you'd feel if you lost a parent or a sibling.

Death is one of those facts of life that can change everything for a person. You expect someone to be there like they have always been, and when they're gone, it's hard to wrap your mind around that fact.

My grandfather died unexpectedly in 2006. He and I were really close for a long time, so when he passed, it picked my world up and gave it a good, hard shake before dropping it again. My family had just lost a 2 year old cousin in a car accident a month before, Aloshua was in the hospital and we didn't know when he'd get to come home, and then grandpa died. It felt completely impossible to deal with all of that at the same time some days.

In Fade, Arionna is going through something similar, though in an entirely different way. She's lost her mom and had to leave her home. When she meets Dace, these weird, wonderful and frightening things start happening to her. Naturally, trying to deal with all of that at once leaves her feeling a little lost at times.

I appreciate that about her, because I think it's something we can all relate to in some way. Change is scary and we tend to be resistant to it at the best of times. When it means letting go of someone we love, change is a whole lot more frightening. We're not always graceful or pleasant to be around. We have days where even getting out of bed hurts. And then we have days where something makes up laugh and we feel like we've betrayed the loved one we lost by being able to laugh at such a time.  

There's also this disconnect between who we've always been and who we are now because some sliver of our identity was wrapped up in our relationship with that other person. If we always had drinks with Jane on Tuesday, and Jane dies, we don't know what to do with ourselves, especially on Tuesdays. For a while, we tend to just freeze on Tuesdays when drink time rolls around, and wonder who we're supposed to be now or what we're supposed to do now. If you've lived with a parent your entire life and could talk to them about anything, when they're gone, you wonder how you're supposed to make it when the person you talked to isn't there to listen.

It can make the entire grieving process downright brutal!

The way Arionna handles it though, is what I love the most about her. I talked about Dace in a previous post, and mentioned how he struggles to let anyone in and can be very tight-lipped and hard to read.

Ari is the opposite. Even though she's having those emotional ups and downs, the experience with her mom has taught her to fight harder for the things that matter to her. She tends to be a little more honest about her feelings as a result. She's also as stubborn as Dace is, so where he's pushing, she's pulling.

I've noticed a trend in YA and romance novels lately in which the heroine is this damsel in distress who can't or won't stand up for herself where the hero is involved. The hero pushes, and she caves and just goes along meekly with whatever he wants without protesting too much or fighting for what she believes in. Or she gives up a big part of herself to make it work with him while he continues on like cock of the walk. Arionna is nothing like that.

Even though she's having a hell of a time and is in distress, she fights for what she believes in, she fights for herself, and she fights for Dace. I can respect that about her. She may be sad, but she's not a pushover. I think that quality, mixed with Dace's personality, makes for an interesting dynamic. But then again, I might be a little biased. ;)

Have you seen the cover yet?! I'm still processing!

smooches and smooshes,
A.K.M.

PS: If you haven't already grabbed a copy, you should definitely pick up Wilde's Fire by Krystal Wade! You can buy it here for a ridiculously awesome $1.99! Once done, you should hop on over to her blog and find out how you could win a $25 Amazon Gift card! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fade's Cover is Here!

I might have maybe mentioned that I got to see the cover for Fade over the weekend, and that I'd share it with you guys on Wednesday. Well, I'm too excited to wait another 3 hours for Wednesday to get here, so I'm interrupting your evening to bring you the official cover of Fade!

Ready?!



I cannot say enough how much I adore the cover. Ms. Casey did a phenomenal job, and I am completely thrilled with the end result. I may have stared at it a time or seven just to process that my name is on the cover. Still processing, by the way. :)

Now, for the catch. We've still got a lot of work to do behind the scenes, so it's quite possible that Fade will not release on April 2nd as tentatively planned. A lot of work goes into publishing, and sometimes you have to push things out a little farther than originally planned to give it the best send off into the world possible. :)

Don't fret though, loves! We will not make you wait any longer than absolutely necessary for the official release, and 30 Days of Fade will keep chugging right along through March.

So, now that that's said....

Who loves the cover as much as I do?!

I am so excited. Like squirrel on eight cups of coffee excited! You're lucky you don't live with me. Trust me. :)

Your giddy author,
A.K.M. 

Eureka!

In Fade, Arionna makes an observation about people in the South being friendly. For those of you who've been here, you know how true this can be. We're a friendly bunch of people, and this is nowhere as true as it is in small towns in the South.

Beebe, where Fade is set, is one such town. Eureka Springs, where The Husbinator and I spent mini-vacation, is another. There are a grand total of 2,200 some odd people in the town, but it's one of the biggest small tourist towns in Arkansas.

This tiny town is nestled high up in the mountains, and is absolute paradise if you're a nature lover like I am. And I do mean it's paradise. Lots of water, lots of woods, lots of mountains, and lots of crumbling ruins and stairs that lead nowhere but into the thick of the trees. It's awesome, and so laid back and calm.

The Husbinator and I left early Friday morning, got there Friday afternoon and got settled into the little cabin. It was on the edge(ish) of town, nestled in the woods with a smattering of houses. It was cute. The only problem was that The Husbinator drives a massive truck, and the driveways for this place were tiny. It was nerve wracking trying to squeeze the truck between the little buildings and trees!

Little cabin
Eventually we made it though.

Once we settled in, we dozed for a while. I have awful motion sickness, and it's always worse in the mountains. The drive in was no exception, so I was exhausted by the time we got there. I'd also forgotten the camera back home, so had to make do with my phone's camera.

After our nap, we decided to go check out the town, and grab ice cream and dinner (in that order. Don't judge. We were on vacation!). I didn't get pictures because, well, ice cream looks the same no matter where you get it. I did get a good laugh though. The lady who runs the shoppe asked if I wanted 5 scoops or 4. How the heck does someone eat 5 scoops of ice cream?! I only wanted one!

We were going to climb the 100 foot observation tower while we were there, but it was broken so we couldn't. No worries though, we found another one... and I'll tell you more about that later!

After ice cream, we went downtown to check it out. If you've been to Eureka Springs, you know how adorable and old it is. If not, I probably won't do it justice, but it's amazing, y'all. The roads are incredibly narrow and full of historical buildings, cute little cottages, and restaurants all living peacefully with residences, a massive dog that scared the ever living crap out of me (it looked like a demon dog!), and the cutest little things set out in random places (like the Monolith and Robot in the pictures below). We opted to drive through on Friday, and then we parked and walked through on Saturday evening.

In case I haven't mentioned it by this point, I love coming across stairs and crumbled walls and old buildings and things. It always gets my imagination going, and it's always so calm and soothing for some reason. Eureka had a ton of each, so I was a happy little graduate.  There were also outdoor art galleries, metal sculptures, and all sorts of neat little things to look at while you walked around downtown.

The Art Colony, downtown

Carriage horse taking a break

Art in the outdoor art gallery

More outdoor art gallery art

Ancient hotel

Ancient hotel part 2

Tiny train at the station downtown

Monolith hanging out in a random spot

Junkyard robot, also hanging out randomly

Ye tiny old house downtown

The Roundhouse. I just love these stairs!

Stairs to nowhere, that I also adore

Tiny, old shed peeking out of the trees

The Potting Shed. Freaking adorable!

A cute little landscaping job downtown

After our drive, we stopped at the East Mountain Lookout to take a look at the Crescent Hotel. This hotel claims to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. It was opened in 1886 and served as a resort hotel for several years before Norman Baker bought it to house his "cancer hospital". Norman Baker was little more than a quack, of course, and swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars out of cancer patients in the form of a miracle cure that only hastened their deaths. The hotel is said to be haunted by patients, a stonemason that died while building the hotel, and even Norman Baker himself. The Ghost Hunters have investigated it once or twice, and got some crazy images and such. Regardless, it's a beautiful and tragic piece of local history that certainly looks like the kind of place ghosts would hang out.




After checking out the hotel from the gazebo on the opposite mountain, we headed back to the cabin. On Saturday, we slept in, and then headed out to the caves to do a bit of exploring. I took about a thousand pictures inside the caves, and my phone didn't save a single one. I'm so bummed. Luckily, The Husbinator has a few on his phone camera. I'll post those when he gets them uploaded!

We finished cave exploring completely covered in mud, and ready for showers! We headed back to the cabin, got cleaned up again, and then headed out, determined to find the Crescent Hotel which, until that point, we'd only seen from the opposite mountain and down below.

It's even more impressive and hauntingly beautiful (hehe) up close and in person. And holy crap, is it ever huge. The Husbinator wants to stay there next time we go back. I'm not sure I support this plan. I already have nightmares. I don't need nightly ghostly visits, too!




After we checked out the hotel, we headed to the park and I did some rock climbing. A couple of years ago while hiking, I decided to go dance on the rocks, and hurt my hip in the process. It was a freak accident. Don't ask me what happened, because I honestly don't know, but I'll never live it down. Anytime I say anything about going hiking, someone inevitably tells me to stay away from the rocks or not to dance on the rocks. This time, I decided to climb them while The Husbinator stood below and cautioned me to be careful like eight thousand times.




Once I had my fill of the rocks, we headed downtown again to walk around. We walked about a mile, checking out the sites, and then decided to head back since the shops were beginning to close up. We headed back up the hill to check out the Great Passion Play arena place, and to see Giant Jesus.

I didn't know that Giant Jesus even existed until I got there, but apparently Giant Jesus is a pretty popular dude. He gets photographed a lot. So we photographed him, too.


Giant Jesus

Passion Play entrance

At this point, we'd walked, hiked, and climbed all day long, and The Husbinator was exhausted. But I was determined to climb that 100 ft observation tower.


So I convinced The Husbinator that we absolutely had to climb it. He finally agreed and we headed towards the edge of town to the tower we'd seen on the way in since the one in the middle of town was out of order. Now, let me just say here that I don't always have the best ideas ever. In fact, if something can go wrong with one of my ideas, it probably will because I don't think this stuff through. I see something I want to do, and I do it. This does not always work in my favor.

I'm terrified of heights like this. It's why I panic on rollercoasters, freak out in airplanes, and hold onto the "Oh Shit" handle in the car for dear life while driving up mountain terrain. But I didn't think about that when I decided to climb the tower. Oh no. All I thought was, "100 feet isn't that bad. It's only 15 stories."

Let it be said that I'm an idiot. 100 feet is freaking high when you're on a tiny metal structure high up in the middle of the mountains with nothing around you and no glass separating you from the sky while your husband chatters about lightning strikes and plane crashes. I made it halfway and I had to turn around and go back. I was freaking out!

I'll never live this down. Ever! The Husbinator laughed at me, but I blame him. Who talks about lightning striking while climbing a 100 foot metal structure high up in the mountains with nothing else that tall anywhere near?! That's just asking for fate to zap you until you sizzle like bacon!

Once I failed to defeat the observation tower, we headed back to the cabin, ate dinner, and relaxed. We got up early Sunday and headed out, hoping to beat the storms heading our way. For the most part, we were successful. We had rain, but nothing too horrible. We made it home early Sunday afternoon, and ay yi yi! I almost fell out of the truck my muscles were so sore and stiff from the day of activity followed by 5 hours in the truck.

But we had a great time, and I graduated without ever setting foot near the ceremony. Woohoo! Everyone was incredibly friendly and, just as amazing, I got to see the cover for Fade on Friday! I absolutely adore it, y'all, and cannot wait until all of you get to see it, too! :) Which will be soon.

smooches and smooshes,
A.K.M.

Monday, March 12, 2012

With a Little Help...

The Husbinator and I are back from mini-vacation, and it looks like the blog survived the Takeover in one piece! Yay!

In all seriousness, I'd like to say thanks to the girls for spending their weekend writing for me. I had an ulterior motive for asking them to participate in the Blog Takeover, and I'm thrilled that the girls each touched on friendship and family in some way in their posts. I wanted to introduce all of you to the amazingly talented and downright awesome people with VIP seats in my cheering section, and they've once again managed to beat me to the point. :)

I've met some of my nearest and dearest through writing, through fanfiction, through volunteerism, or through some of the weird and random things that come out of my mouth, and I couldn't be happier about it. The Tripod and the girls have gotten me through some tough times.

Last January, I got really sick, and we weren't really sure what was wrong for a long time. Because of my neuro history, I was referred to a neurosurgeon who decided to run several tests to see what was going on with my brain. He discovered a spot on my brain during an MRI/MRV that caused some concern. One thing you never want to hear is that you've got a spot on your brain, and the doctor isn't really sure what it is. When he calls you the next morning and tell you he needs you back at the hospital for bloodwork ASAP, you tend to alternate between outright panic and being numb with fear.

I spent weeks stuck in bed, ready to set it on fire while the neurosurgeon and his evil twin (my neurologist) ran tests, tried out different medications, and otherwise drove me insane, but I didn't deal with any of it alone. The girls and Accolito sent me random funny tweets or emails to make me smile, blew up The Husbinator's phone with texts to check on me, fielded inquries from readers, and were otherwise exactly the strong, caring and courageous people that I'd come to adore.

(We eventually discovered that the spot was a lesion and were able to rule out pretty much every underlying condition under the sun. I just have a weird brain that does stuff it shouldn't for mysterious reasons it hasn't felt a need to share with the class. I feel great, so no fretting.)

When it was all over, and I was trying to decide what was next, everyone had their own ideas. One recurring theme was publication. I heard it from every quarter for months, and the girls were a big driving force behind the sneak attack. When I caved and told them I would try, one of the things that stood out to me was how each of them, in their own way, told me to do it for me, because I'd earned it and I deserved it. I'd never really thought of it that way before, and it was the push I needed to step out of the bat cave and give it a go instead of diving right back into the workforce.

They've been there every step of the way since. They read Fade in its thousand different forms, logged into my email to press send on the very first query when I couldn't, celebrated with me when I signed the contract, helped me put into words and images what I had in mind for the cover, told me I was awesome when I felt anything but, and a million other things that, done alone, would have probably been overwhelming. I'm blessed to have each of these talented writers in my corner, and, more importantly, I'm blessed to call them friends.

Fade is what it is today because of their unflagging support, their eternal optimism, and their willingness to tell me "I told you so" as often as necessary. I wanted to share them with the world as part of 30 Days of Fade because they are the reason we're here today. They've made me a stronger writer, challenged me to make the tough choices, and have been absolutely amazing through all of it.

So thanks for letting me share them with you! :)

And thank you, ladies and Accolito, for being the heart of and driving force behind Fade and this crazy journey we're all taking together now. We wouldn't have if it weren't for you, you know. We'd still be hiding in the bat cave with Fade gathering another year's worth of dust.

xoxo,
A.K.M.

I will be back tomorrow with lots of pictures and the report from mini-vacation. :) 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What I Know

Blog, blog, blog.

What to write on a blog...

When Ayden first asked if I would write a guest post for her fancy blog, I hesitated. Not that I don't adore Ayden (I do), I'm just not a writer. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I often imagine that an author's brain is just full of flowery words and phrases designed to make lowly readers (me) feel something, want something, or know something. My brain, on the other hand, is full of recipes and strategies on how to keep my four year old from turning my house into rubble.

So why am I writing this blog?

Because, seriously, I adore Ayden. She's a kind of fabulous I can't even put into words. Honestly, she would not have cared if I had said no like I initially planned. However, I imagine her getting those Puss n' Boots eyes and I can't say no, even through the computer screen. I mean really, who could resist?

But I digress. What to blog? One should blog what they know, right?

Here are 10 things I know for sure.

1. Give. Give happily, wholly, and assuredly. I'm not talking about money--give someone a shoulder to cry on, food to eat, a listening ear, a helping hand. Just give.

2. Sometimes you can give something your all, and it's still not enough. And that's okay. In today's "everybody wins" society, I think that concept gets lost along the way. It's the effort, not the outcome, that matters most.

3. "No one is better than you, and you are no better than anyone else." That's a direct quote from my momma, so pay attention to that one.

4. Macaroni and cheese will always taste like home wrapped in a hug. Even bad macaroni and cheese is good eatin'.

5. Men and children do not do well on the 4th hour of a family photo session. I learned this today...the hard way. Memories to last a lifetime, right?

6. Bill Cosby was right. Kids do say the darnedest things. My kid told her preschool teacher that I made Daddy sleep in the snow. (I didn't. I gently pushed him into the snow so that he could make a proper snow angel.)

7. Those automated answering machines (like when you call 411 or something) will never, ever understand my accent.

8. Always make friends with maintenance workers, administrative assistants, and technology personnel. Those are the people who run the world.

9. I really don't know that much.

10. Some of the best secrets deserve to be shared. So here it is. An AK Morgan exclusive post. This recipe has been a well guarded secret in my family for years. Every time my mother, my sister, or I make these rolls, someone asks for the recipe. They've never gotten it. Without further ado, I give to you (with family permission, of course) my family's roll recipe.

Cook together 1 cup water, 1 stick butter, 3/4 cup Crisco, and 2/3 cup sugar until melted. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of colder water, and let cool completely. When cool, add two well beaten eggs. In a small bowl, dissolve 2 packages of yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Combine the mixtures and mix well.

While mixing, add 7 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. After mixing well, rest the dough. Every 30 minutes, knead the dough (or just mix it well). After two hours, refrigerate the dough, allowing it to rest overnight.

The next morning, divide the dough into 5 balls. Roll each ball out into a pie shape. Cut each one as you would a pie, or pizza. Roll into crescents and butter the tops. Allow the rolls to rest for 2 hours. Bake at 425 until the tops are lightly browned.

Thanks for reading! :-)

~Leah

It's Complicated, & Secret, But We Have Wigs...

So, Ayden asked for help while she's away. She's a smart girl—she knows I can't tell her no. Before I get started, I figured I should tell you who I am and how I know our lovely Ayden. My name's Brandi, but I write Twilight fan fiction under the pen-name beegurl13. I met Ayden a couple of years ago when she wrote a story for a contest I was co-hosting. Since then, we've tweeted lots of times, emailed even more, and I've written things for charity drives that she was heading up. She knows I'm always willing to help, which is probably why she asked me to help out now. :) I write a little bit, I read a lot more than I should, I cook sub-par meals for my family, I clean only what must be cleaned, I spent hours every week talking to my bestie on the phone, I wash more laundry than any mother of four children should be legally required to wash, I spent lots of time working on newsletters, invitations, and record keeping for my particular job at church, and I sleep. Well, I try to sleep, when I can. Oh, and I also obsess over Twilight and Robert Pattinson. I can't stop, I've tried. My hubby hates it...and I don't care.


Ayden told me that I could write about anything I wanted, that there was no limit to my crazy, and I'm gonna test that theory out. That being said, I thought I'd discuss something that I was obsessed with for years, and that I feel never received the amount of love or support it should have. Something that brought me hours of joy, heartbreak, and excitement. Something that was pretty much just endured by the network it was on. Something that people ignored and turned a blind eye to, saying it was silly and young and undeserving. It's my favorite television show ever—ALIAS.




What is ALIAS, you're probably asking. It started in September 2001, just after the happenings of September 11th. I'd seen the commercials for it during the summer. I was excited beyond any normal amount of excitement. It starred Jennifer Garner, who I love, Michael Vartan, who I adore, and Victor Garber, who I think is amazing. Plus, it had all kinds of costumes and disguises and mystery about it. I was in love from the first commercial, and I still am.


Sydney Bristow, the lead character played brilliantly by Jennifer Garner, is a spy. She's working for the US government, in a black ops division, or so she thinks. After returning from a mission, she comes home to find her fiance dead, and her world implodes. She refuses to return to work, instead opting to spend time on her college studies. Soon enough, she realizes that since she won't go back to work, she's seen as a loose end, and they want her dead. It's then that she finds out who she's really working for—the enemy. She's working for the exact people she thought she was fighting against. With that knowledge, she makes up her mind, and she returns to the agency known as SD-6. After informing them that she's back, she high tails it to the actual CIA offices, and becomes their newest double agent. It's at that point that the story gets interesting. See, that's when she meets her new handler, Michael Vaughn, played by the amazingly beautiful Michael Vartan. The sexual tension between the two of them is astounding right from their first shared moments on screen, and he becomes her most trusted confidant. Soon enough, Sydney learns that she's not the only double agent working for the CIA. There's another one...her father, Jack Bristow, played by Victor Garber. He's gruff, emotionally withdrawn, and overly protective of his daughter. The two of them must learn how to work together and trust each other, which proves to be a task easier said than done.




ALIAS ran on ABC for five seasons, during which we saw a lot of amazing costumes and wigs, heard more foreign languages than I knew existed, and felt so much sexual tension, you'd swear your TV set was melting. At this point, ten years ago, we were deep into season one, and cursing the screen each week as Sydney and Vaughn continued to battle against their growing attraction to one another. Not only are these three amazing actors in the show, but also someone else, who at the time was not very well known on the Hollywood scene yet. I'm sure no one would have any problem recognizing him now. You heard of Bradley Cooper? As in, The Hangover? Yeah...he plays Sydney's friend Will, who has a little crush on Syd. It's cute, and pretty fun when he finds out about her life. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that no one in her life knows she's a spy? I didn't say that? Oh...well, they don't. And that makes the show all the more fun.


If you can find it, give ALIAS a try. Like I said, there are five seasons of it, and we see some awesome stunts, experience some shocking moments, and suffer through some serious heartbreak. All in all? It's total win, and I couldn't love it more.


Oh yeah, and Michael Vartan is hot. Did I forget to mention that, too? Ugh...those green eyes of his. Yummy. :)




Thanks Ayden. Gotta say...I'm both curious and nervous about what you're gonna ask me to do for you next... :D

beegurl13/Brandi




Friendship

Hello *looks around nervously* Jen here, a good friend of Ayden’s, also known as Hongkongphooey on FFN and @HKP_Jen_73 on Twitter.

Bear with me for I have never posted on a blog before. Yes, I’m a blogging virgin. I confess I have no clue what I’m doing here but when Ayden asked me to help with the Blog Takeover I couldn’t resist having a go.

For those of you that don’t know me I’m a thirtymumble stay-at-home mum to two very noisy little boys who hails from the rainy west of England. When RL allows I write a little Twilight fanfiction but am mostly to be found reading or lurking on Twitter.

I first met Ayden in November 2010 when I took the plunge to contribute to her first Fandom for Preemies fundraiser. She helped support and reassure me that my first ever oneshot wasn’t total rubbish.

We’ve remained firm friends ever since and frequently spend time putting
the world to rights or just talking inane nonsense. She’s my rock, my salvation and my educator on all things sweet tea.

So what shall I do now I’m here? Well, recently, Ayden and I talked at great length about what friendship means to us. So I thought what better theme for my ramblings could there be?

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I have a bit of a thing for quotes, so I’m just going to share some of my favourite friendship ones.

"I get by with a little help from my friends."
John Lennon

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

"A friend is one who believes in you when you have ceased to believe in yourself."

"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend."
Albert Camus (also attributed to Maimonidies).

"Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend's success."
Oscar Wilde

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.
Erich Segal

I have to include some A. A. Milne quotes. Recently Ayden and I were talking and I commented on feeling a bit “Eeyore-ish”. She promised to keep a tight hold of me and make sure I “never lost my tail” which brought an immediate smile back to my face.

A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.
A.A. Milne

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand.
"I just wanted to be sure of you.”
A. A. Milne


“Friendship," said Christopher Robin, "is
a very comforting thing to have.”
A. A. Milne

“I might have known,” said Eeyore. “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said ‘Bother!’. The Social Round. Always something going on.”
A. A. Milne


Finally I’m going to leave you with a very special quote indeed, that I keep close to my heart.

“Truth and tears clear the way to a deep and lasting friendship and she’s seen plenty of mine.”
A. K. Morgen

Those words couldn’t be more true. Thank you my wonderful friend. Here’s to you.

Six Sentence Sunday

*peeks in* Is my blog still in one piece? No one's hanging out on the roof waiting to be let in? No tigers in the bathroom or naked Chinese men in the trunk? No one needs bail money, right?!

Okay, good.

I left the Tripod and the girls in charge this weekend while I relaxed, so you know, it could happen. It's part of why I love them so. ;)

The Husbinator and I are still on mini-vacation. We're having a fabulous time. And I'm here for another round of Six Sentence Sunday. But first I have to share with you the news.

The Dean emailed me on Monday to tell me he needed to speak with me. Naturally, I panicked immediately. In my experience, it's never good when the Head Dude in Charge wants to speak to you. Trust me... I know. I got bored easily in high school, and, well, let's just say that I spent a lot of time in a tiny little cubicle in A-School after meeting with the Head Dude in Charge. But moving on!

I freaked out when I got that email, and immediately thought "holy crap!" He's going to tell me I missed a credit hour somewhere and I can't graduate, and then my entire life will be over and and and..." Yeah, it wasn't pretty.

At any rate, after flipping out, I found out it was actually good news. As of yesterday, I'm officially a graduate. And I did it in the top 2 percent of my class! Woohoo!

I just thought I'd share the happy before moving on to Six Sentence Sunday. :)

We're welcoming Arionna back this week for our six. This is from book 2 (Fall). Ari is having a bit of a tough time at this point in her journey, and so is Dace. Poor kids. Let's just say that things happen in Fade that aren't all rainbows and puppies. But then again, life is never always rainbows and puppies, is it? Sometimes it's great big, snarling dogs (or bulls, if you're me!) who chase you for blocks while you run, screaming like a girl and hoping you beat the storm clouds that are gathering overhead.

This is currently unedited, but I hope you enjoy it anyway!
       “It was just a dream,” I lied, just as I always did. I tried to smile. It was watery and false, but a smile nonetheless. I couldn’t put those nightly horrors to words. I’d tried once, and his pain had nearly crippled me. I didn’t try anymore.
You can check out other fantastic additions to SSS here. Remember, not all are suitable for young readers.

See you when I get back this afternoon! And, wifey, my cookies better not be missing!
A.K.M.


Hockey: The beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Hello all, it's me PK! To some I am Ayden's wifey and to be honest that title is one I am proud of. More so than anything else I have been called, being Ayden's wifey means several different things but to truly understand the meaning we need to travel back in time to the beginning.

*hops into Doc Brown's Delorean and flies off back to the day I met A.K. Morgan*

You see, I am a fanfic writer or at this present time, was, since I am suffering from writer's block.

*secretly knows when Ayden reads this she will be beta'ing it in her head*

Anyway, I had mustered up the courage to write my first fic and didn't have a beta. I was introduced to Ayden through a mutual friend and our love for hockey is what brought us together at first..actually it was the pretty but regardless hockey was one of the first things I remember about Ayden. She was the first and only other woman I had met that was a true fan of the sport. But then I found out the ugly truth. She was a Black Hawks fan. I know, I know, everyone just calm down! It's okay, I forgave her instantly for the transgression and it spurred a series of events where we would watch our favorite teams play and comment to one another on twitter.

Then there was THE fic...

Emancipation Proclamation. Better known as EP

I bring this up because what better way to forge a friendship than through the love of someone's writing. Do you remember the anticipation of the next update or the little things that stick out from a book or a fic that instantly reminds you of it? Ayden and I have shared those same experiences over the last few years through several fics but I think EP is the one that really bound us completely.

When Ayden asked if I wanted to contribute to the blog I said absolutely. The reason? Just so I could let you all know how I truly feel about her. Ayden has been there for me through a lot of rough patches in my life. She has always been there to lend a hand not only to me but to others in every way possible and then some. One of my fondest memories was two years when we did Fandom4Preemies and I can honestly say it was one of the most important things I have ever done in my life thus far. That is because of Ayden. She has this way about her that moves you to want to help. I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, she can lift my spirits with just a simple Hi or hello. She has always been my cheerleader when I have been at my lowest of the low and even though I haven't always been there for her like I should have been she has never given up on me. Her encouragement to try hard and to never give up is an inspiration to me and I can only hope for those of you that have the honor of talking with her know what a true friend and amazing person she is.

So in closing, I ask you all to do one thing. Everyone has a wifey, a best friend, your other half or a sister from another mister, go to them and hug them tight. Tell them that you love them and you appreciate them for making your life richer, tell them thank you for never giving up on you and that you hold their friendship in your heart like the precious jewel that they are.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this and I wish you all a blessed day!

Sempre, wifey...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kindness

*waves* Hi. It's Bella, Ay's friend from the adult romance sphere. I've known Ayden a long time... three almost four years now (feeling old now). When she asked if I'd do a blog while she was away I was kind of freaked out since I figured I had nothing to say. Usually when I write, something inspires me. I see a picture, hear a song, or one of my muses sends me something that sets off a spark. This was going to be hard for me because I didn't have one of those. So I thought to myself, what would be a good thing to focus on... Hmmm?

This is what I came up with. Hope you enjoy.

~Bella Leone


kind·ness

  [kahynd-nis]  Show IPA
noun
1.
the state or quality of being kindkindness to animals.
2.
a kind  act; favor: his many kindnesses to me.
3.
kind  behavior: I will never forget your kindness.
4.
friendly feeling; liking.
(from dictionary.reference.com)


So what is kindness?

When I think about it, I know there are many examples in our world, but sometimes, we forget to look for them. We're all very good at finding the negative, the downside, the black cloud. I am one of the guilty, I assure you. Everyone has moments where all they see are the dark, and all the rays of light are hidden. I think that's part of being human, no?
But another part of being human, is humanity. What separates us from the predators of the jungle or the beasts in the closets of our mind? It is our ability to affect others. Our ways of connecting. The simple smile, the hand held out, the laughter brought to others.
We all have our struggles and stumbles and stresses... it's when you stop thinking about yours and begin thinking of others... that's when we rise above our negativity and create a positive motion. The old Pay It Forward idea. Do for someone else so they'll do something for the next in line and someday you'll get it back in return.
How true it is. When you stop focusing on your hurt to help another, your hurt dissipates. No, it's not gone. No, it's not perfect. But yes, you can make it better for another and in return, help yourself.
I think Ayden gives us all a good example as she still has her moments of eyes down and drudging, but she also loves to help others and encourages us to do the same. She could fall down and cry, but she doesn't stay down. I find that admirable. I often want to curl into a little ball and pretend the boogie man isn't there, pretend the water isn't rising, like a good little ostrich... but to stand up and say, "What can I do to help?" Rather than hiding and pretending all is well, I can make a difference to someone else, even if my world isn't full of sunshine. It takes just one break in the storm to allow the sun to warm us.
And sometimes... the rain is just what we need to wash out the bad and allow for something new.
It's not always easy, it's not always fun, it's not always possible... but if you feel at the end of your tether, someone else might be in the same position, and by you offering a shoulder, sending a note, or dropping by with a smile, you could shift everything.
Just one drop can create a wave.
Think about what kind of wave you want to be to the others around you. You are a drop in the ocean amongst all the others. We can create waves that bring water into a draught, we can be a tsunami washing away a beach. We get to choose by our actions. Our decisions dictate how others perceive us, how others react to us, how others regard us.
Drop in the Ocean - Ron Pope
Whether you have a higher power, no matter the power's name, we can all agree that we're here together and we can be positive or we can be negative. We can be a gale force wind of change or we can rip through and leave destruction in our wake. 
It is ours to decide.


"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -Anne Frank
Thank you to all of you who made it to the bottom and thank you to Ayden for allowing me to play on her blog. If you'd like more of me, I'm at www.bellaleonebooks.com and @bellaleone. I might write adult stuff that not everyone enjoys, but I'm fairly fun to tweet with!
<3

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