Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Excerpt time!

Still haven't grabbed your copy of Here's to Campfires and S'mores? Check out the excerpt below to get a taste of Molly and Jamie's story...




Letting my tears spill, I pulled my knees up to my chest and rested my forehead on them. With a shuddering sigh, I cried. Again.


“I miss you,” I told her, even though she wasn’t there. “I miss you so much, it hurts. It doesn’t feel right to be here without you. Why did you want me back here? I can’t be here without you…”

The wind picked up again, carrying the sound of hammering up from the lodge once more. Up on the mountain I had the perfect view of camp. Though the cabins were hidden in the thick trees, I could see the green, the outdoor fireplace and log benches, and the main lodge. They resembled doll-house furniture from up where I was.

I saw a man chopping wood, his ginger hair almost the same color as the faded metal roof on the top of the main lodge. That was Graham. Moving the cut logs over to the fireplace in a wheelbarrow was a tall, thick man with a limp. That was Owen. I smiled sadly. He and Sue kept busy to keep their minds off of their pain. That much I knew. It was an admirable quality. One I could completely relate to, as I’d been doing that for years.

But there was also movement down near the thick, overgrown foliage surrounding the fireplace. Someone was whacking away at low hanging branches and brush that’d woven its way around the stones, partially blocking the hearth. He stepped into the sunlight to wipe his brow, and I noticed his shirt was off.

I gasped a little. It was Jamie. 

Mother of Oprah Winfrey, he’d always been so lovely to look at. I remembered when he’d taken off his shirt to swim when we were eighteen and seeing the way his body had changed, becoming ridged and cut in places where he’d been skinny before. It lit a fire in my belly that hadn’t existed. Prior to then, our lust had been innocent. Make-out sessions between two teenagers learning as they went, fumbling around in a darkened car at night. But that summer, it changed. Oh, my how it changed.

I watched as Jamie hacked at a low-lying branch, heavy with leaves and pinecones. It broke off from the tree, and he tossed it aside like the Hulk. An odd sense of pride filled my gut. There was a time when Jamie was the go-to guy in our circle of friends. Whenever someone needed help cutting and hauling out a dead tree from their backyard, whenever someone moved to a new place and needed a guy to lift a couch. Whenever someone’s wife bought a new fridge that needed transporting from the driveway to the kitchen… they called Jamie.

And it wasn’t just because he was strong—though, he was. His arms were corded with muscle and his chest was defined enough to make sweat sting my skin, even all these years later. It was because Jamie was nice. Or, had been. He volunteered for the Big Brothers program, and took his students to sing at old folks’ homes at Christmas time. He volunteered for jobs nobody else felt like doing, and he never complained when he was the only guy who showed up.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Unfriending.

I recently discovered that an old friend--of roughly 20 years--unfollowed me on all social media after I posted some pro-gun-control sentiments following a school shooting in my home state and the mass shooting in Las Vegas.



And surprisingly enough, it felt like a punch to the gut.

I was taken aback by my reaction to it. Usually I am unaffected by such things. Friends in my life come and go. Such as life, you know? You keep some friends forever, you lose others. Sometimes they come back, other times they don't. Sometimes you show them the door, and tell them not to let it hit their backside on the way out, other times they quietly slip out and you're left feeling like this:



I mean, I get it. Relationships wax and wane. Some stay longer than others, some mean more than others, but my circle of friends has become a family of sorts for me, especially since I am not especially close to my biological family. I've found acceptance and love within my circle of friends, that I haven't found elsewhere, and when it's cut off over political hot topics.......



Ouch. Ouch.

(That "ouch" is right up there with relatives who don't like me being friends on social media with my ex husband. Yeah. It smarts. Not going to lie.)

I wish it didn't sting, but it does. You see, I'm finding that relationships in my life--and in the lives of so many freaking other people, it's impossible to count--are being irrevocably fractured over political hot topics and their basic core beliefs these days, and it's breaking my heart.

In the last two or three years, I've been shut out by more than a handful of relatives over hot button topics like gun control, abortion, race relations, and religion. And it's not just them. I'm doing it, too. In an effort to maintain what little emotional stability I had left, I've shut a fair amount people out of my life, because of the alarming amount of strife, insults, arguments, scapegoating, and gas lighting that was happening. I've felt forced into a closet over my beliefs, often out of fear of being rejected, yet again, by the very people whose opinions I value most of all. All over the very core beliefs and personality traits that add up to all that is me. The kinds of things that if asked to change, would ultimately change everything that makes me me, and since I can't do that... I seek solace in likeminded friends, instead.



Which is why this one stung a bit. Because I've long since grown used to being rejected by family. That's not a new feeling for me. But by friends?

That's been a tough one.

I doubt she even knew how deeply she hurt me. Honestly, she probably just didn't want to hear me babble on about gun control, or how much our current president resembles a death eater from the HP series anymore. She was probably sick of my opinion, and simply didn't wan to hear it anymore. Which, in and of itself, is not a bad thing per say.

She's from an extremely pro-second-ammendment type of family. They're conservative. Super conservative. Almost as conservative as my own biological family is super liberal, which is extreme, to say it mildly. So while I don't consider myself to lean in either direction, rather to sit staunchly in the middle of the political road, I have found that as of late, if you're conservative: you vehemently detest liberals. And if you're liberal: you vehemently hate conservatives. And often times--at least in my own familial experience--there is no middle ground to be found.



Let's just call a spade a spade here: if in order to warrant your respect, tolerance, and friendship, someone has to think, believe, or act the same way as you...you're intolerant. 

I'm sorry. I don't mean offense, I just mean to shed some light on a clearly foggy topic for everyone. Now that we've made it 100% clear, in no uncertain terms, lets get back to the subject at hand.

I'm sad. I want my friend to like me. I want to be accepted and loved and respected by my friends. I'm no longer accepted or respected...or maybe even loved, I don't know, I'm not about to ask...by much of my family, so losing the respect, love, and acceptance of friends feels like being punched in the gut. It's been a rough few years for me. And it doesn't look to be letting up any time soon. Losing a friend over politics hits a little close to home. And I've been hit close to home so many times lately.

I hope she'll reconsider. I hope she'll someday know how much I love her, and how much our kids love each other, and how much her presence in my life has changed me for the good. Or, at the very least, I hope she never has to face being unaccepted by her family for who she is, or what she believes. Because it sucks. Like a lot. And I don't want that for her. We might have differing views on some politics, but over all, the love and respect is real, and strong, and--at least on my part--won't wane.




It's odd how some people walk out of your life (or you kindly--or not so kindly--walk them to the door and push them out) and it doesn't even make you bat an eye. But others leave a mark. Their absence is felt, even when you pretend that you don't care. On the inside you feel like this....



It sucks.

I really hate politics. I really hate opinions. I really, really hate what it's done to my life, and how it's blown certain relationships that meant the world to me into a thousand pieces. I'm beginning to lose hope in humankind. We should be better than this. We should want to be better than this.

xoxo
Brooke

Saturday, October 28, 2017

New cover!


One of the many reasons I chose self publishing after being traditionally published...when one cover isn’t received well, I can change it! And despite knowing darn well that abstract covers don’t sell copies, I tried it...and failed.  


But there’s good news! It’s only two weeks in, and my second cover is muy delicioso. Check it out!


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Who was YOUR first love?

Who was YOUR first love? 



Mine was a boy who went to my school who had a bad reputation. We were off and on for years before finally being OFF for good--and that was a very smart decision, if I do say so myself. 

But some first loves last a lifetime! I have friends who fell in love in high school and are STILL with their sweethearts 20+ years later! Kudos to them!

Jamie and Molly met and fell in love at 15...then split after years of infertility and building resentment. But a few days at the summer camp where they fell in love changes everything...

Who was your first love, Reader and Writer friends? Why didn't it work out? Or DID it work out? Share in the comments below!



Check out Jamie and Molly's story for only $2.99 today...or read it for free with
Kindle Unlimited!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Excerpt time!

Jamie and Molly Burnham met in 1994 at just 15 years old...and their love was instant. Do you remember your first love?




“No.” I brushed his mouth with mine. “No. Not yet. Don’t go. Don’t stop.”
            That was all the permission he needed. His lips opened mine and my knees quavered as we made out with the intensity of Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court in Say Anything. We were going too fast, our hands fumbling to touch more than fingers, knees, or arms. I felt Jamie’s chest, and his hand brushed my bottom. It was all too much, and I knew it, but I couldn’t stop, because who knew when—or if—we’d ever get the chance to hold each other again.
            Stifling a pitiful moan, I turned my head away. Begging myself not to weep in front of him. That was the last thing I needed to do. Let him see me cry, and I would never forgive myself for tainting our last minutes together with girlish emotion.
            “It’s okay,” he whispered, burying his face in my shoulder. His breath wove its way through my hair, making me wobble slightly. “I get it. I… I’m sad, too.”
            “I don’t want this to end yet.” Sniffling, I leaned into him. “I’m scared.”
            “Scared of what?”
            “Everything’s going to change.”
Jamie pulled apart far enough to gaze into my eyes. “Molly, just because we’re going home doesn’t mean things will change.”
“But it will. My mom, she’s so—”
He cupped my face, brushing the end of my nose with his. “It’s okay. Nothing will change. My feelings won’t change. I… you’re really cool, Molly, and I… I just…”
I blinked at him, heart swelling in my chest. It felt like my ribs would crack under the pressure. It all felt too big, too great to contain. “What do you mean?”
He smiled, ever so slightly, still out of breath. “I… I love you.”
His words were rushed, and came out in a jumble, but they sounded like the most beautiful music I’d ever heard in my life. My heart began to soar.
“Really?” I whispered. “Because I do, too.”
“Really?” He laughed, his smile growing. “Good. I’ve… I’ve never said that to anyone. You know, besides my mom or something.”
“Me, either.”
He threaded his fingers through the back of my hair. “Cool.”
I closed my eyes and pressed my mouth to his, letting the hysterical excitement of kissing Jamie take over my entire being, practically lifting me off of the soft dirt at our feet.
Ahem.” Jamie and I both jumped at the sound of Bree’s grandpa clearing his throat. When we pried our faces apart with an audible smack, my stomach dropped down to the soles of my feet. There he stood, a red bandana tied around his head of white hair, and his blue Camp Chimalis t-shirt stained with sweat as he frowned through the low-lying pine tree branches. “All right you two, come on out. Right now.”

Heads hanging, we obeyed. Jamie gave my fingers a squeeze before releasing them to duck under an awning as we crossed around the edge of the main lodge. Blinking in the bright, mid-day sunshine, we were met by a throng of campers and parents loading their duffel bags into car trunks. A few of them stared curiously as Jamie and I followed with our heads hanging. I could still feel the skin around my lips stinging from his kisses, and wished the cracks in the dusty lot would open up and swallow me whole.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The worst thing to say...

...to someone who is unhappy, is:

You should count your blessings. Try to be more positive.




Sigh.

Am I the only one who sometimes needs to be able to vocalize what's troubling me? Honestly, I cope with life better when I can talk about stuff. Why does that make other people so uncomfortable? Why does that infuriate folks?

When I sound remotely like this guy:



I am immediately reprimanded and told to become this guy:




So. Freaking. Annoying. (Telly really isn't that bad. Ok, he's sort of a negative Nelly at times, but Abbycadabby is fake as heck. Like anybody is ever that happy all the time. Please.)

I swear this is why we have this generation of millennials who need their "safe spaces" with crayons and play dough. Why people lose their mind when they hear things they don't want to hear, or see things they don't want to see... because we live in a society that tries to police what others think, feel, and share. We don't allow folks to feel their anger or sadness--we ask them to shut up, focus on the positive, keep their thoughts to themselves, or better yet, go to a doctor and get on a pill that will numb them, because surely feeling something less than joyful, oblivious, or numb must be stopped. That real-ness, raw-ness, blatancy must  be quashed along with any so-called free thinking that doesn't coincide with the world's most popular narrative.

Do not speak up, unless it's for a pre approved topic. Do not raise your voice, unless it's for a pre approved cause. Do not raise your voice, unless it's against a crappy president. Do not share sadness, unless it's for something society as a whole can relate to. Numb yourself to anything that might bring down the temperament of someone listening. Numb yourself to anything that, that might offend if shared. Deny yourself the time to grieve, miss, or feel disappointment, because those emotions are negative, and negativity is a no no. Duh.

Well........

I know, Telly, I'm confused, too.


This monster says B.S.

Some days I am happy and joyful. In fact, most days I am. Some days I laugh a lot. Some days I have creativity flowing out of me like a flash flood. Some days I want hugs and kisses and to tell everyone I know that I love them more than cheese--which is a lot, in case you didn't know. Some days I want to put on makeup and pretty clothes and walk around in the sunshine. Some days I go to bed content and pleased with how my life is turning out, and how many blessings I've been given.

Other days I am sullen and down. Some days I miss things that other people wouldn't miss, like the smell of rain, or the way the wind hisses on wheat fields in the fall. Some days I have to remind myself to stick with it, and to not be a grump to everyone I meet. Some days I have to pray for God to give me patience, creativity, and fortitude. Some days I like to stay in PJ's and wear a bandana on my head like a homeless biker. Some days I go to bed knowing that tomorrow is another day, and that today was just a crappy go of it, and that's okay.


It happens.


I call B.S. to those who think all negativity should be carefully contained and bottled up inside, or numbed with pills designed for folks with much bigger issues. I say let people feel what they feel and stop trying to avoid real, live feelings. Feelings aren't something to fear. Feelings are real, raw, and organic--whether they're negative or positive--and nobody can ignore them forever. To try is to try to fix a dam with a band aid.

Not so effective.

Eventually we all have to be honest with ourselves, and let those feelings out. We can't all pretend like life is one constant stream of positivity, with our snapshots with fake smiles and hands on hips. Sometimes even the Emotion Police, as I so lovingly call them, have to feel things that aren't so positive. You can't hide from life forever, and you can't expect others to do so.



I prefer to be real. All the time, even when it annoys everyone around me.


xoxo
Brooke

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Ready to check out book 1 in the Summers at Camp Chimalis Series??




Sparks flew the moment fifteen-year-old Molly Kaff and Jamie Burnham locked eyes across the dusty Camp Chimalis parking lot. From that moment, they were undeniably and irrevocably in love.

Until they weren’t.

Months after the demise of their fifteen-and-a-half-year marriage, a mutual friend from those treasured summers at camp dies, rattling their tight circle of friends to the core. Her dying request? Bring everyone back to camp one last time.

Returning proves more emotional than Molly expected. Sweltering heat in un-air-conditioned cabins is just the tip of the iceberg. Memories, both delightful and dispiriting, press down on Molly as she grapples with the momentous grief from the loss of her friend…and her husband.

Trying to honor her wishes with the ex hanging around is one thing, but being stuck in the woods with no cell service and years’ worth of hurt and resentment is another. As Molly tries to navigate her way through the heartache, she starts to wonder if she was wrong about the reasons behind her failed marriage. And if maybe her friend orchestrated their Chimalis homecoming from beyond…

Can a few evenings sitting by the campfire eating s’mores be the salve her battered heart needs to finally move on?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Happy book birthday!


Hooray!! It's my BOOK BIRTHDAY!!




Here's to Campfires and S'mores is live and available in both ebook and paperback form for you, my dear readers! I hope you'll all grab a copy and let me know what you think!

xoxo
Brooke


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Look what I'm doing this weekend!

I'm flying aaaaaaaaaaallllllllll the way to Seattle, Washington, USA to present another workshop at ECWC 2017!



Yay!! (Literally the best time of year.)

This year's workshop is entitled, Sexy but Sweet: The Art of the PG13 Bedroom Scene Done Just Right.

I'm hoping I've made progress in the nerves department....and I'll be able to actually stand while I present this year. :)

Are you going to ECWC this year??

Maybe I'll see you there!

xoxo
Brooke

Monday, October 9, 2017

Excerpt time!!

Ready for another taste of Jamie and Molly's romance? Meeeeee tooooooo!!!

Check it out here:



Don’t be such a freaking wuss,” I scolded myself, dropping the towel and swiping at the sweat gathered underneath my blunt bangs. “I’m the only camper here.”
            After peering in both directions to see if the coast was clear, I took a deep breath, and darted for the lake. When the water hit my toes, I almost stopped. It was still crisp and cold enough to set a chill deep in my bones. But I forced myself to press on. Casting a quick glance at the lily pads not far away, behind a frayed yellow rope boundary, I dove. Arcing my body over the lake, I sliced through the water with ease.
Though I didn’t swim often anymore, occasionally I would slip into the YMCA after my shift ended to do laps. Though my time wasn’t nearly as good as it’d been in my teens, my form was on point. I could tell by the way the water felt around my body. No drag, I thought before emerging. Still got it. Sort of.
I surfaced twenty feet from the beach, and drew a deep breath. Just like when I was a kid, the water numbed me enough to keep swimming, but not enough to cramp up. Treading myself in a circle, I observed the lily pad patch. The night after Jamie’s foot got caught in the weeds, everything between us changed. We’d become best friends. Not in the same way that Bree, April, and Rachael and I were. I didn’t have the urge to gossip and giggle with him. I had the urge to talk for hours about everything and nothing all at once. When he took a deep breath, it felt like my lungs filled, and when he laughed, I could feel my ribcage jostle.
Simply put, he became my everything. And damn it all to hell it was time to let him go, to wash him away as my arms sliced through the water. Since that was where everything between us started anyway.
I ducked back under the water and started to kick, propelling myself away from the rope divider. Those blasted lily pads hadn’t done anything for me. They bound me to the boy who eventually became the man who dumped me for having a bum uterus. If I thought they’d catch fire, I would’ve ignited the whole patch out of principal. But for now, all I could do was paddle away. With a burst of energy from deep within, I swam toward the dock in the butterfly, my weakest stroke, barely slowing down to draw a breath. My muscles burned in protest, but I kept swimming. Burning muscles and tight lungs felt infinitely better than an aching heart. After approximately twenty-three laps between the ropes and the dock, I finally breast-stroked my way back to shore.
Crawling back onto the beach, I pushed myself onto my feet, breathless and exhausted. I needed a nap and some food. Something fattening and bad for me. Sue’s barbeque ribs sounded better than a Thanksgiving feast. Tilting my head forward, I shook my hands through my hair, sending droplets onto the beach at my feet as I walked back to my towel. Maybe Sue wanted some help in the kitchen. All I needed were dry clothes, and then I’d wander to the mess hall to check in with her. When I reached the overgrown tree line, I bent down to retrieve it, and cracked my head on something solid.
“Ow! Mother f—”
Every hair on my body stood on end, and I stood bolt upright. “Jamie!?”

Kneeling in the brush by my towel, looking sweaty and angry as he hurriedly tied his shoe, was my ex-husband.