Posts Tagged ‘book’

One of the characters in my short story collection Evil Imminent is fascinating me still. It’s been six months since I created Sybilla, ghost hunter extraordinaire. I remember creating her as a young, almost arrogant woman who, with the supreme confidence of the foolhardy, takes on one of the most haunted houses in Newtown, Sydney.

Despite the advice of her local paranormal group to stay away from the Mason House, she goes there alone. Well, I won’t give away anymore because that would be a real spoiler. Instead, I’ll satisfy my curiosity about Sybilla by interviewing her.

What attracted you to ghost hunting?

An experience I had as an eight year old girl. My parents moved to Berrima, a little town outside of Sydney. The thing about Berrima is that it’s very old and there are a lot of buildings that are haunted there. I was lying in bed, listening to my MP3 – really loved Green Day back then – and I felt like there was someone in the room with me. We’d only just moved into this house, so I suppose I was on edge a bit. Anyway, I rolled over and tried to ignore the feeling. It was then that it happened. It felt like a cold hand had grabbed my foot. I drew my feet up and started to panic. There was something…someone in the room with me; that much I knew for sure. I started to shake and shiver but then something just clicked. I thought I’ll be damned if I’m going to cower in a bed. So, I got up, and went and got the bible mum kept in the drawer in the hallway. I started to recite the Lord’s Prayer over and over. I put my hand on that bible and walked the perimeter of my room. It just came to be to say “Begone, back to where you came from.” I said that over and over til I couldn’t feel that presence anymore…I felt empowered then, even as an eight year old.

So what was it…the presence you’re talking about?

Oh, that. Yeah…turned out that our new house once belonged to the governor of the local jail. He was one hell of a cruel dude as the story went. He ended up dying in that house…in my room actually…trinity of terror

And you moved out of that bedroom…?

Nah. I enjoyed the suspense after that…and the game. They…spirits think they can scare you but the truth is they’re just dead. They can’t hurt anyone.

Ummm. So why did you join the Newtown Paranormal Society?

Just couldn’t get enough of ghost hunting. I love it and I’m pretty good at it really. I mean why should human beings be scared of the non-living. Just doesn’t make sense. We are way more powerful than them and I enjoy showing them who’s boss…

What’s your next big project Sybilla?

The Mason House of course. Everybody’s heard of it. That’s where Marcus Mason murdered his sister and his parents. He’s one evil son of a bitch and guess what?

Ah…what?

I’m gonna make that dude pay for what he did to his little sister. She was only eight years old.

Evil Imminent is a collection of horror/paranormal short stories and can be found on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QRE42J8. Trinity of Terror featuring ghost hunter Sybilla is one of seven stories in the collection.

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It’s a humble Friday night and I’ve finished stewing my apples. My three sons are out and about, getting on with their busy lives and my husband has the remote – everyone’s happy. Me? I’m here in front of this computer screen and talking to you. I’m happy about that too.

The dogs are at my feet – Koster (English Staffy) is licking his paws in his clumsily, silly way and Fiona (Shih Tzu) is doing a better job of being dainty. A lot has happened since my last post, including finishing the edit on my new horror/paranormal thriller, Blood Visions.

My short story horror/paranormal collection, Evil Imminent, was released before Christmas to good reviews and I’m busy thinking about my next project – another paranormal thriller. Can’t wait to start writing that one.

As I sit in my upstairs home office, I’m looking out on a new year – one that is full of creative promise, time with family and cultivating my garden – which reminds me, the figs will be ripening soon and I can’t wait to taste those. There is definitely something wonderful about eating your own produce. Now I’m digressing from the real reason I began this blog tonight.

Below is one of my absolute favourites from Evil Imminent about a young couple who literally miss each other in this world. Without giving too much away, it’s here below for your reading. I hope you like it. If you do, head over to Amazon and pick up your e-book copy of Evil Imminent and the other six short stories on offer http://www.amazon.com/Evil-Imminent-Collection-Paranormal-Stories-ebook/dp/B00QRE42J8.

LOVE OUTLASTED

She drove down the long, overgrown driveway with its rambling greenery that once was a clipped hedge. The thick canopy overhead reminded her she was in the woods, miles from the nearest town. That had been their dream, to get away from the city and find a place where they could start a new life; one that was definitively their own – not their parents, or her sister’s, or even his older brother’s. One that was their’s: Gabby and Levi Allman.  “Of course, it would be rambling and eerie looking,” she said to her husband in the passenger seat, but like the shattering of glass all over again, remembering he wasn’t there. Would never be there again.

She brushed the tear away, as it slid down her cheek, the next welling up and spilling over to follow its track. With an impatient sniff, she wiped her hand hard across her face. Tears would do no-one any good she had learned in the past months, least of all herself.

It had been twelve months since the defence force messenger arrived at her work to break the news that Levi was missing in action, presumed dead. The allied forces had sent several platoons to search for Levi and his companions, without any luck. The Special Forces ranger had been on patrol with four of his regiment when they were ambushed close to enemy lines. At first the family liaison team had given her daily updates and it became clear it was unlikely he had survived the attack. As the weeks wore on, and then months, their visits became less frequent. Now she felt like a stalker, trying to get information out of them.  After receiving the news she had put her life on hold. How could she not? Their future was entwined like the heart-shaped ruby with its filigree patterned ring that he’d given her when he proposed five years ago. ‘Forever Together’ was engraved on the gold band.

It was only when she felt herself slide into depression, mixed with what had become nightly drinking sessions to obliterate the pain that ached like a knife in her heart, that she knew she had to at least try and move on. She called the real estate agent they’d been talking with before Levi left on deployment; it was supposed to be his last with the army. They had agreed that she would continue her playwriting, while he investigated establishing his own security firm. She would try; just try to live the way they planned, but without her husband. The air in the car felt stuffy, so she opened the window and swallowed the lump rising in her throat. She would not cry.

She slowed the SUV for the deep potholes that had carved their way into the road. How much further, she wondered, to the three bedroom cottage they had chosen, complete with verandas and a garden of lavender and honeysuckle roses…. She wasn’t disappointed. Through the trees ahead she saw the house. It was just like she had imagined. She felt the glass inside her begin to shatter again and taking a deep breath, she gripped the steering wheel and slipped the car back into second gear for the climb up the steep track.

Slowing the car to a stop in the driveway, she sat for a minute to take in the landscape. It was isolated alright and she wondered how she would cope with that, but she reasoned that nothing could be worse than losing her husband. The psychiatrist she’d been seeing during these long, lonely months without Levi, had warned her against the move.

“You’re not strong enough,” Dr Gambert had said. “Barely twelve months widowed …I mean having lost the love of your life, and you are planning to leave all your support systems behind. It’s not the sensible thing to do, Gabby.”

She had shaken her head at the doctor’s attempt to influence her decisions. She was having none of it. She knew what she wanted to do and she owed it to Levi to start the life they planned. Gabby still hoped Levi would come home to her and what better place to come home to, than their dream home which they had been looking at online – it ticked all the boxes – to begin their new life. She hardened her resolve and opened the car door, grabbing her overnight bag from the backseat – the suitcases and boxes could wait until the morning. She trod wearily up the stairs. The agent had left a ‘welcome’ note on the door and the key was under the mat. She jiggled the old lock and, opening the front door, she was hit by the dust that enveloped the inside of the house. She sneezed. This would not do at all. Inside she heard the phone ringing and, slamming the front door, made her way through the dim light that struggled through the blinds, following the ringing, until she found the wall phone in the kitchen.

“Hello,” she said impatiently, annoyed that someone was disturbing her already. The worried voice of her protective sister, Carey, greeted her.

“Gabby. Oh, thank God you’re there safe and sound. I’ve been worried about you all day.”

She stood on one foot, hand on hip and gripped the receiver. “Why would you worry Carey? For the hundredth time I’m telling you ‘I’m okay’. I know this is what Levi would have wanted. Why won’t you try to understand?”

She could hear her sister’s thoughts, wondering how best to pacify her, without her taking offence and hanging up the phone. “You know Gabby I’m not trying to interfere. It’s just that it’s miles from anywhere and you haven’t been well lately. I’m worried about you.  At a time when you should be near people, you remove yourself altogether and isolate yourself. Come on Gabby, have a think about it.”

“If you think I’m coming back to be fussed over and have other people make my decisions like you’ve all been trying to do, you’ve got another thing coming. I haven’t forgotten sis, that it was you who signed the forms to put me in that hospital. Emotional exhaustion they said. Well that was no excuse for those drugs they pumped into me, day in day out. I couldn’t think.”

Her sister interrupted, hoping for common sense. “You and I know you’d been drinking, and mixing that with your sleeping pills. God knows what could have happened. Look Gabby, I don’t want to fight. You are my sister and I want to help you.”

Gabby was about to hang up and Carey knew it.

“I’ll call you tomorrow?” her sister said, before the line went dead.

She leant against the bench. It was a modern kitchen with a view of the woods stretching all the way back to the nearby mountains. Perfect for cooking romantic dinners. She let her mind wander to happier times.

“You got the wine, Honey?” she called to him from the kitchen. She was making his favourite dish, beef fillet mignon and he was supposed to be uncorking a twenty-year-old Shiraz.

“I have,” he said, breezing past her with a kiss and selecting two long stemmed glasses from the cupboard. “Music too.”

“You’ve thought of everything,” she said, taking their meal from the stove. “Done.”

She lifted the fillets onto the waiting white plates. The steam and fragrances reminded her she hadn’t eaten all day, thinking about his impending departure. It was only two weeks until he shipped out and she desperately didn’t want him to leave. She carefully carried the plates into the dining room and heard him draw in his breath.

“Beautiful.”

“Oh, I hope it’s okay,” she said, not entirely confident in her cooking skills.

“No, I mean you. You’re beautiful.”

She looked at him, held in his gaze for what seemed a long moment. He mouthed, “I love you.”

She smiled. “I love you,” she said out loud.

Gabby shook her head, suddenly aware that darkness had fallen while she was lost in her dreaming.  She wasn’t in their marital home anymore. She was in a cottage, miles from anywhere and waiting for God knows what. She felt the cold emptiness of the room drowning her. She felt the tears beginning again; the glass breaking. With renewed determination, she flicked on the light and lit the small gas heater in the lounge room, briefly contemplating starting the fire in the hearth but the thought of gathering wood in the dark was too much. That was something Levi would have done. She wandered upstairs and opened the window in the master bedroom, glancing ­­ at the queen bed. She felt the loneliness of the room and its emptiness. She knew she would never look at a marriage bed again without the sharp pain that hit her in the chest.

As she opened the window, she paused. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw the familiar red flannel shirt he used to wear at home. “Levi,” she called, questioningly. She peered into the darkness. No, it was just her mind playing tricks. She sighed and decided that she would eat the sandwich she hadn’t wanted at lunch time and then go to bed. A deep fatigue overcame her, as she descended the stairs and dug the sandwich from her bag. She made her way to the lounge room and sank into the sofa near the heater – their sofa – that had arrived from the city a day before her. She tugged the rug from the other end of the sofa and covered her legs, watching the red and blue flames of gas dance their way across the heater. It was no open fire, but it would do she thought. She leant her head back on the sofa’s arm, adjusting the lumpy cushions. Perhaps she would eat that sandwich in the morning; or perhaps not. She slipped the blue sleeping pills in her mouth and took a long sip of the wine she had brought in from the car.

Gabby woke from a deep slumber to the early morning rays of the sun warming her feet. She rolled over, remembering she had fallen asleep on the sofa. Sounds from the kitchen startled her. She was alone in the house, but there was no mistaking the clatter of saucepans, and eggs being beaten in a ceramic mixing bowl. She crept to the door and holding her breath, peered round the corner. She saw red flannel. Unmistakeable. Shock ran through her body, electrifying her fingers with excitement. “How…” She swallowed hard and called his name. “Levi.”

He turned, gazing intently at her, as though he was seeing her for the first time.

For that one, long moment their eyes locked. “You’re home. I knew you would come,” she said.

Levi Allman drove the hire car all night. He didn’t care that tiredness seeped through his bones. It was winter and he’d only been back in the country for a month. Long enough to learn what had happened.

He turned the radio up as far as it would go, listening to the sounds of Coldplay’s Violet Hill. Why? He’d been asking himself this question over and over. For twelve long months he and his companions had been detained in a Taliban training camp, along with a handful of westerners captured around the same time. He’d fared better than most of them because of his training, but he’d learned the hard way that there is no ‘why or how’.

The countryside was slipping away as he pressed harder on the accelerator. He wanted to get to the cottage. It should have been their cottage; the home they’d planned to live in, long into the future. He’d been driving since yesterday afternoon and it was nearly dawn. He just needed to see the house. Carey had told him what had happened. How deeply Gabby had grieved for him until it sent her over the edge. The early morning fog was drifting in, giving the forest an eerie feel. He stared ahead at the thin white line in the middle of the road. When they had discussed moving to the country, they had joked that miles from nowhere they’d still have each other. He let the memories wander – of their anniversary dinner just before he went on tour, of their last night of lovemaking and the way he had held her until the early morning hours, stroking her hair and promising he’d come back.

Oncoming car lights brought him back to reality, and the last hour on the interstate slipped by in the memories of their life together. Before long he turned the car into the winding driveway, with its thick, overgrown hedge and the encroaching woodlands. She would have found this eerie, but kind of fun. As a playwright it would have appealed to her ‘sense of the dramatic’. He gripped the steering wheel as the rustic cottage came into sight with its honeysuckle covered veranda. The sweet smells of home, he thought with such irony that it hurt.

He found the key under the mat and let himself in, taking no time to absorb his surroundings. He was hungry after the long drive, so he found the kitchen, not wanting to disturb the deathly quiet of the house in the dawn. He searched for the ceramic bowl they always used to prepare scrambled eggs and took half a dozen small brown eggs from his backpack, along with the loaf of bread he’d bought at the last town he travelled through. He whisked the eggs just the way she liked them and set two places at the table. Old habits were hard to break. In the long months in Afghanistan he’d dreamed of their breakfasts together in their new home.

It wasn’t long before the eggs were cooking in the pan and he turned the mixture over, not wanting to overcook them. He shivered. The air in the cottage was cold. Perhaps he would turn on the heater after all. Something in his periphery made him turn toward the door and he could have sworn he smelled her smell. He looked into the dusty air hoping she would appear, but knowing that was impossible.

He sat down heavily at the table and let the pent up emotion wash over him, wave after wave, and he cried until it seemed there were no more tears left. One month. One month was all it took between her suicide and his repatriation. A special operations force had broken the Taliban’s defences and he, along with the other prisoners were liberated. But he had come home to find his wife couldn’t wait for him. Consumed by her grief, she had chosen this house, their future home, to take her life.

“Oh Gabby. Why?” he said. “Why couldn’t you have held on…not let hope slip away…I had nothing but hope to live on, but you…you stopped looking for it…why?”

But there was no answering him in this world, and perhaps the next.

He would not stay on at the cottage. He could not. He ate the cold eggs and cleaned up quickly. There was nothing left here for him. Gathering his backpack, he walked slowly to the front door – a doorway that marked both his past and future. He stopped at the lounge room. Carey had told him it was here that she’d done it. He shuddered.

“Goodbye my love,” he said, through the tears streaming down his face.

With grim resolve he walked through the door, shutting it firmly behind him.

I’ve tried to find the reason why I enjoy writing in the horror genre. I’m still not sure really. It could be a rewind in time when my mother used to scare me with a story about a stranger walking up the garden path. It started with “Mary he’s at the front gate…Mary he’s walking up your garden path…Mary he’s at the front door…” And so it went until the stranger was at the foot of the bed. I’ll leave it to the imagination as to what may or may not occur next.

Of course there was no harm meant in this. She told it with an almost vaudevillian – certainly exaggerated – demeanour and at the end of the story she would grab me for extra affect. I remember oscillating between being wide eyed and holding my breath to absolutely, shrieking terrified. It was much the same as I grew up. I was scared of the dark and, simultaneously, captured by the scary stories my friends used to tell on a sleepover.

In adulthood, I began to read a horror and enjoyed the stories that were laced with mystery. The really good thrillers that left you wondering why something had occurred. I discovered Dean Koontz who writes suspense thrillers a few years back and then began to devour more and more Stephen King, falling in awe of his sheer ability to tell a story. This was also around the time the penny dropped – that the weird and impossible, and the sometimes dark and dysfunctional, do happen. Sometimes there’s a rhyme and reason, and if you’re clever you can pick it up and learn from it; other times difficult situations come seemingly out of the blue and whollup you in the face.Evil Imminent front small

Life is not all serendipitous, but then I guess you already knew that.

The other reason I think I like writing horror fiction is simply because you can take that imagination and let it sore to dark outer reaches. There can be doorways to less than heaven like places, or ghostly apparitions, or less than likeable Mermen. There can be star crossed lovers whose depth of commitment reaches between two worlds and alien beings who are not just ‘beaming’ you up into the Enterprise (the ship on Star Trek the science fiction series for anyone who doesn’t follow).

Other dimensions, twisted by life human beings and purple skies and black sunsets…it’s all within the horror writer’s grasp. It may be a niche market of sorts, but when was the last time you could explain absolutely everything that happened to you in your life? The non-linear is always a challenge don’t you think?

So aside from stories on imagination’s edge that are waiting to be told, the other reason I think I write in the horror and paranormal genre is to take my experiences and explore them, embellish and exaggerate them, and add a touch of the vaudevillian to them to, hopefully, entertain my readers and, in the process, myself.

I have a short story collection Evil Imminent that is due out in the next 24 hours or so. I was determined to have it out before Christmas, and I will have met that challenge even though ‘life’ has gotten in the way for a good part of this year. If you are anything like me, you love nothing better than relaxing with a book over the holidays. So, time to relax and kick back for a break. If you like the horror and paranormal genre and want to find out about my new release, you can visit my Facebook Page for details of when Evil Imminent goes on sale.

Happy holiday reading…

As the title of this post suggests, I’ll be letting my fingers speed across QWERTY as I rush to get my word count in for the day. National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo): Day 15 (in Australia, that is).

I began my journey with blistering enthusiasm. I’d had my manuscript Blood Vision (or is it Visions) swirling in my head for about 18 months. “Plan my youngest son said. Do a plan for your next novel.” So I did. I managed to squeeze in time to really nut out my manuscript before Nanowrimo began. And I was supremely pleased. I would use the motivational worldwide writing community (mowowrico) to help me get things started and then, following the plan, it would all be apples.

Well…yes and no. As any novelist will tell you, writing a book is sheer hard work. Think of climbing a cliff face, metaphorically and that’s what it is like. Maintaining daily word counts can be difficult some days but not all days. On the good days the words flow, the characters say what they were always meant to say and, as the writer, you sit back and think, “Yes! There is no other place I’m meant to be than sitting here writing this novel. On other days, well snacks do help.

Here are the things that have helped me on my Nanowrimo journey so far:

* Snacks…hahaha

* Tips from other authors: Really good ones like base your characters on people you know (sorry guys, like I explained to may sisters the other day, I don’t model characters on other people, just take snippets here and there of personality traits or experiences gathered over a lifetime. Some characters I draw from, I might have only known for five minutes. So relax…)

* Finish your writing for the day at a scene you will look forwarding to writing the next day

* This one from JK Rowlings: You’ll go through a lot of paper before you become a good writer

* Stay off social media. Leave your best writing, thoughts, creative processes for Nanowrimo – oops I fail on that one

* Learn to like all your characters, even the villains

* No matter what, don’t give up. Keep writing.

I’m at 25,700 words now. I’m hoping for a marathon effort today; to find my way up that sheer cliff face, one handhold and foothold at a time. I have to. Blood Vision (s) is worth it.

You can find my author page on Amazon, and my short story, horror collection ‘Evil Imminent’ will be out in December 2014.

My new book ‘Belonging Places’ examines the universal theme of ‘belonging’, taking the reader on a journey through the eyes of three women – all at various stages of their lives.

“It’s a story that all women can relate to, and offers one answer to the age-old question: where do I fit in; where do I belong?” Maryann says.

Weston1-7 (1) small“It’s very much a healing journey for the reader and is set in real life scenarios. The issues my three central characters face are issues I’ve faced, and the women in my life have faced.”

The contemporary fiction novel tells the story of Liliana, Estelle and Jill. “Liliana Flint-Smith is young and starting out on her own. Leaving a dysfunctional family behind her and with nothing but a university degree in librarianship, Liliana moves to a remote village in the country,” Maryann says.

“Different from everyone else in the town, she must find her place in a society that doesn’t take kindly to strangers. With the help of an old woman who lives in the flat next to her, Liliana begins to find herself and discovers it was never about her changing, but about learning to be herself.”

And then there’s successful career woman, Estelle Wainwright.

“She’s burning up the career ladder and has just made editor at a national women’s magazine. Her husband Joel is also carving out his niche as an architect and, together with son Corey, is the picture of success. Or are they?” Maryann says.

“Estelle is fighting the tension within herself: work and home, career and husband, businesswoman and woman. She then has to navigate through a health crisis that will test the decisions she has made about how she lives her life.”

Our final character is Jill Bridges who’s ageing and struggling to stay afloat after the death of her lifetime partner, Maryann says.

“Her children are busy with their own lives, and she’s facing the prospect of a nursing home. But it’s her independence that makes her life worth living and she’ll be damned if she’ll bow to society’s plans for her,” Maryann says.

“She must find a way to triumph over old age and emerge into a life that still holds meaning.

“These are definitely experiences, challenges and triumphs women face every day. And that’s not to say that men shouldn’t read this book. There’s something in it for everyone, because that sense of belonging that gives us happiness in life is a quest all human beings, regardless of age and gender, are on.”

Belonging Places is available on Amazon:

In print, here;

As an eBook, here.

You can find out more about my books by visiting my website.

It was 4am and I was wide awake. The day had been muddled with too many things to do and not enough focus. I had gone to bed too early perhaps, and with too much on my mind. A dark dream preceded my wakefulness and breathing heavily, and quickly, I awoke and pushed the tiredness away, glad that I was truly on the earthly plane and not battling the phantoms of my dreams.

I had dreamt someone stole my wallet; a dream that left me without any material security in a crowded place, rather like being naked. I’m not sure why I dreamt that. In any case, I reached for my i-phone, trying to take my mind off the dream and off a feeling of being lost…and without even 10 cents to my name.

I scrolled through my twitter feed and happened on a link from Dean Wesley Smith, a science fiction author. The particular post was titled: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. What a great thing to read at 4am in the morning – seemingly without a wallet.

As a newly published author with a dream of becoming a successful publisher, I read every word of that post. What attitude, a real down to earth look at why it’s quite conceivable and realistic to have the goal of successfully publishing my own books, or perhaps being a hybrid (author that is both indie and traditionally published).

A part of me has always liked the idea of the wild west and Dean is pictured on his blog in full cowboy regalia. In the fictional wild west battles were settled with a bar room brawl, or a shoot em up. Either way, no-one seemed to mince words. Well Dean’s post didn’t. He came right out and said write plenty of content across multiple genres, fill the shop, and readers will come because you’ve got full shelves and lots of variety. At 4am his no nonsense attitude was refreshing and I refocused on my publishing dreams, knowing that it was entirely possible I might be successful.

So then I went back to sleep and missed the commotion of the early morning in our house. My middle son had lost his wallet that night coming home from a nightclub and a wonderfully kind lady had phoned at 7am to let us know she had it and would drop it round to my son. As he was away for the weekend, in a large coastal city without any money, ID, or petrol for his car, this woman’s kind gesture meant everything to our son, and to us.

Dream mystery broken. Somehow I had picked up on the lost wallet thing. And as for Dean Wesley Smith and the kind lady who found my son’s wallet and returned it, thank you.

My book Shadowscape is all about mind power and intuition. It’s available at Amazon if you want to take a look. And I’m also beginning to fill the shop with Book 2 Dawn of the Shadowcasters out on 30 May 2014 through Lodestone Books. If you want to find out more about the books and why I write head over to Smashwords and read my author interview.

Given I have some time off from work and have the luxury of extended reading, I have been catching up on blogs, New Year messages and generally any posts about publishing. One of the sanguine topics at the moment is goals for 2014. Sure I could write a post about them too – that I’m powering ahead with my Indie publishing dreams, and that I’ll try and do everything better this year. I could write about those things but I’d prefer to look at reality for a minute.

Reality. It’s not something that we want to spend too much time on is it? We prefer to live in some future tense or we dwell on the past because regrets are a natural human condition. Rarely do we stay put long enough to live in the present.

Capturing the present moment is not hard when you don’t over think it. It’s about taking stock of what’s around you and really experiencing that. Trouble is, our lives are rarely perfect or where we want them to be. That’s called reality: the way we are thinking and feeling in this minute.

Most likely there have been stresses over the ‘festive’ season. I know there have been for me. I’m probably one of many where Christmas and New Year haven’t gone quite right for various reasons – concerns about family health matters, a look in the mirror that says some things will need to be done differently in 2014, or simply taking stock of the old happiness barometer and finding it needs to rise a tad.

So given my present ‘reality check’ here are a few things I will be thinking about over the next few months (before I dare make any ill-informed, naive and unrealistic goals):

  • Learning to love yourself…as the Whitney Houston song goes. Tricky, very tricky. None of us had a perfect childhood unfortunately and this is where we learn to love – well even like – ourselves. To get it right in adulthood requires a whole lot of unpacking and repacking of those negative thoughts and experiences.
  • Better health: Not to strive for it is simply unacceptable. Everyone can find two small things to do better, even if it is brewing a green smoothie in the morning with all the good stuff to start the day. Or finding 15 minutes at least for exercise. Simple.
  • Relationships: We are born to get old. Yes everyone of us, you and me. Sometimes it’s time to throw out the relationships that aren’t working, and probably haven’t been for a long while. At the very least, we can demand more than just complacency from our relationships.
  • Standing strong: It requires courage to be true to yourself. Say what you mean, when you mean it. No games or clever double entendres. Stand firm in what you want and need and avoid the footsteps that will, otherwise, be planted across your person (don’t let people walk all over you).
  • Follow the dreams that have been with you since childhood because they are the best indicator of your ‘purpose’ in life. Yes, yes and amen to that!
  • Don’t forget kindness and compassion. Without it, we suck at life.

Maybe that’s enough for the moment to think about. On another note, I’ll be releasing Shadowscape – The Stevie Vegas Chronicles (Book 1) in mid January as an Ebook across all the major publishing platforms. Thanks to all the Indie authors who have been so kind with their information and resources. Yes, kindness and compassion are most definitely part of anyone’s ‘reality check’ if they look hard enough.

All the best for 2014.