Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Excerpt time!

Still haven't grabbed your copy of Here's to Campfires and S'mores? Check out the excerpt below, and see if it piques your interest...


“Hey,” I called as he walked toward his cabin. His shirt was sweat-soaked and filthy, and his blond waves stuck up all over his head. When he didn’t turn around, I raised my voice even louder. “I said, hey Jamie!”
            He stopped but didn’t turn around. “What, Molly?”
            I ground my teeth together. “We need to come to an agreement.”
            He turned halfway around, cocking an eyebrow. “We came to an agreement months ago after a mediation session and three grand in legal fees.”
            “Nice.” Rolling my eyes upward, I prayed that Bree’s ghost would stop me from picking up a rock off of the path and lobbing it at his head. “What I’m saying is, we’re here for the same reason. Agreed?”
            “That depends.” Jamie narrowed his eyes “What are you here for, Molly?”
            I met his glare with one of my own. I knew where he was going with this. He was suggesting I was there to get back together with him. And sure, the thought had crossed my mind a few thousand times over the last year and a half, but judging by the way things had gone over the last twenty-four hours, the only thing Jamie and I would be doing at Chimalis was wish the other would fall off Cross Mountain and hit every rock going down.
            “I’m here for Bree,” I told him sharply. “And Sue and Owen, too. And because I’m going to see Rachael and April in a matter of days, and I missed this place. Believe me, it had very little to do with you.”
            Something flashed in his eyes, and he sniffed indignantly. “Good. Me, too.”
            I bit back the urge to call him a dick stick, and snapped, “Fine.”
            “Fine.”
            “Fine.” I put my hands on my hips and started pacing. I had an adrenaline rush. “I think since we’re both here to help Sue and Owen carry out their daughter’s wishes, we should agree to stop fighting.”
            He jutted his chin at me. “Who’s fighting?”
            I could feel anger sizzling under my skin like bacon on a hot pan. “Are you kidding me? That drama you pulled at dinner last night was Oscar-worthy, Jamie.”
            “It’s James,” he spat. “And what about your little performance this afternoon while we were working?” He raised his voice and stuck his hands on his hips, clearly imitating me. “Sorry I missed lunch, boys. I’m on my way for a snack. Maybe I can help later.”
            “That wasn’t a performance. I was hungry. It happens. And besides, you were the one to throw the first insult today, and you know it.”
            He began pacing himself. “Only because you think flirting with Graham is going to make me jealous.”
            “Well clearly it—”
            Jamie pointed a finger at me. “Don’t you dare. That’s not what I meant.”
            My mouth dropped. “I was not flirting with Graham. I’m being nice. I’m sure it’s foreign to you, it’s been a while since you’ve been nice to me.”
            “Likewise.”
            We stood there engaging in a fifteen-second stare down. I wanted to throw that rock now. I’m sure he did, too. But wasn’t sure which of us could bend down and pick one up first.
            Jamie finally rubbed his eyes. “For hell’s sake, Molly, this is stupid. I need to shower before dinner. What do you want?”
            I swallowed, my rage tasting bitter. “I think we should agree not to fight in front of Sue and Owen again. It isn’t their fault Bree wanted us here alone. They didn’t mean to start World War III. They’re just trying to help.”

            “We’re beyond help.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Too"

Am I the only woman in the world who loathes being told she is "too" _____ (anything)?

Maybe that's just me.

Maybe I'm taking things the wrong way. Maybe I'm misinterpreting what people say to me. Maybe I'm reading between the lines way too much. Maybe I'm just a spaz and I need to chill the eff out.

Or maybe I'm just sick and tired of never, ever being "enough" or "right" for people. Like super-dee-duper sick and tired of it. Fed up. Like this:



"Too." I really can't stand that word. I freaking hate it. And here's why...

My whole life--and I mean, my entire existence--I've been told by people that I am "too" much or "too" little of about a thousand different things that are usually completely out of my control, meaning I had no way to correct it without changing the very fiber of who I am, and what makes me Brooke. 

You're too sensitive.
You're too aloof.
You're too loud.
You're being too quiet.
You're too opinionated.
You're too subservient.
You're too scared.
You're too bold.
You're too soft.
You're too needy.
You're too standoffish.
You're too religious.
You're too open.
You're too conservative.
You're too liberal.
You're too closed off.
You're too accepting.
You're too racist.
You're too crass.
You're too proper.
You're too silly.
You're too immature.
You're too high needs.
You're too closed off.
You're too sheltered.
You're too wordly.
You're too materialistic.
You're too disconnected.
You're too tuned in.
You're too high strung.
You're too carefree.
You're too.....you're too.....you're toooooo.....




I. Am. Not. Too. Anything. Anymore. Got it?

As most of you know, I am a Christian. I believe that, despite my flaws--both physical and emotional--I was divinely created to have a place on this world, and to be a necessary and important part of God's plan. That part could be as big and important as somehow changing the world for the better, or it could be as simple and seemingly insignificant as writing silly romance novels that make people smile. Regardless, I was created the way I was created because He saw purpose in me.

Did you read that? I'll say it again. Because He saw purpose in me.



Not purpose in the way I need to be, or the way I should be. But in the way I am. Needy, loud, crass, high strung, materialistic, immature... all ingredients adding to the recipe that somehow created weird, lame, spazzy me. And I am finally (at the tender age of 41) ready to start accepting that I was created this way for a reason. My unreasonable fear of bears? For a reason. My incessant need to have the throw pillows on the couch arranged just so? For a reason. My need to seek attention and laughter from people, even when it isn't socially acceptable to do so? For a reason. My self loathing? For a reason.

I was made the way He wanted me to be. And yes, I always need to work on being a better woman, a better wife, a better friend, a better mother, a better human, but there is nothing wrong with being me, either.

There is a reason I was made to be the high strung mess that I am. There is a reason why I was put on this earth with anxieties and worries that keep me up at night, and there is a reason why I want people's approval, even when they're idiots, and their approval isn't required, much less preferred. There is a reason why I make people flinch and curl away from me when I am honestly just trying to be their friend. There is a reason why I don't fit in with the people I should fit in with, and a reason why I'm sensitive to that fact, even though everybody and their dog tell me that it shouldn't matter. There is a reason why I've been given so very many "too's" in this lifetime, and why I have spent 41 years feeling like a square peg in a round hole with literally everybody in my life.



I am learning how to embrace my "too's." Too sensitive? No, that means I feel. When so many others numb themselves to the aches and stings of human life, I dare to feel. That's something to be proud of, right? Too high-strung? No, that means I live. When so many others shuffle through life with their heads down, trying to just get through the day without incident, I dare to laugh and joke and smile and talk-talk-talk until I'm blue in the face. Trying too hard? No, that means I'm trying where others give up. It takes balls of steel to try to make a room full of teenagers laugh, even though they're literally staring at me like I've announced I like to drop-punt kittens as a pastime. Too loud? No, that means I dare to speak up when others shush themselves. I have opinions and observations to share, even when everyone else is clamming up and facing forward like sheep--I dare to speak.

These are good qualities. Even if the world sees them as flaws. To me, and my Maker, they're assets.



It would be nice in this lifetime to hear the words: You are good enough. You fit. You have a place, instead of you're "too" this, or "too" that. I'm not sure I'll live long enough to hear those things from the people who count the most, but it feels most excellent to finally be able to say them to myself.

xoxo
Brooke














Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Excerpt time!

Still deciding whether or not to grab YOUR copy of Here's to Campfires and S'mores? Check out some of Jamie and Molly's story here to help you decide....



Jamie approached behind me, putting a warm hand on my shoulder. When I looked up, shocked, I saw that he’d placed the other around Sue. “Molly and I fell in love on s’mores night.” He offered me a half a shrug, as if to say I know I’m breaking the rules. Sorry. “It was summer of 1994. We met and started going steady, and on s’mores night I gave her my pukka shell necklace.”
I snorted, and a tear spilled down my face. “I wore that necklace for a solid year until we met at camp again.”
Owen threw the towel over his shoulder and leaned against the sink with a tired groan. “What in the hell is a pukka shell necklace?”
Jamie laughed, and I noticed that his eyes were shining with tears. Sadness was contagious. He didn’t move his hand off of my shoulder, and I let the feeling of familiarity and comfort it offered envelop me. Looking over at Owen, he said, “They’re white shells that were crushed up and the pieces were strung into a necklace. I got mine when my family went to Florida for my grandpa’s funeral. Wore it all the time. Never took it off.”
“It was all the rage back then,” I explained, sharing a grin with my ex-husband. “Well, they actually caught on a year or two later, when all the boy bands arrived. Jamie… James was ahead of his time.”
I pictured him with his necklace and sweaty blond curls that first summer, and sighed happily. He’d been so unbearably handsome and sweet that first summer. Utterly innocent in every way, and completely unaware of the effect he had on the girls. For some reason I’d still not discovered, he set his sights on me—the mousy girl who never got so much as a second glance from a boy prior to July of 1994. The oddest part of our courtship was, it hadn’t fizzled after our session ended, like most camp romances did. We somehow kept it going, retained our connection for the months we were apart through letters and visits I’d had to plead with my mother to allow. Somehow we beat the odds.
The lump in my throat started to crumble and wash away.
“Ahead of my time. Or totally out of touch. Take your pick.” Jamie kept his arm around Sue and didn’t move away when she rested her head on his shoulder. “But I gave the necklace to Molly during the game of hide and seek on s’mores night. There was a full moon, and everyone was hiding, so the green was still and quiet. Bree told me about her favorite hiding spot behind the fireplace.”
            I noticed as Owen swiped at his eyes. “When we got back there, James thanked her,” I explained. “Then she took off into the darkness to find Rachael and April. James asked her for help. They concocted a plan to get us alone, so he could give it to me. It was very romantic, in a fifteen-year-old sort of way.”
“Hey, I thought it was romantic.” Jamie’s eyes met mine and lingered. “It was one of the best nights of my life. That was the night I realized I loved Molly.”
Sue looked at both of us. “Guess that’s why Bree asked us to make sure we gave you a s’mores night just like the old days.”
“I guess so,” I said finally, my voice hoarse. The weight of Jamie’s gaze felt even heavier than the grief. “She… she must’ve known how important it was to us all those years ago.”
“Still is,” Jamie said, his voice barely audible. I wasn’t sure either Sue or Owen heard him utter it.
I didn’t look at him. Couldn’t. Was something happening between us? I didn’t dare move.
Owen spoke next. Turning back to the dishes, he switched the hot water back on. “It’s a damn shame you two split the sheets.”

Sue stood up straight, and wiped her nose, scolding, “Owen.”

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Have you ever...

Looked at a deep lake and wondered if there were creatures at the bottom?

Maybe that's just me.

That's what led me to write my fantasy YA fiction, Underwater. Check out an excerpt here:



When I called my sister’s name into the darkness, my mother didn’t even peer through the kitchen window. She was too focused on being mad at my dad to concentrate on anything else. Besides, in her mind I was a thoughtless brat—which I was—and how would she know that there was a mermaid with a vendetta running around outside.
Except for the moonlight flickering on the choppy waves of the bay, the night was pitch black. I scanned the darkness, trying desperately to see something. Anything. The swish of Evey’s ponytail. The bright white of her softball practice shirt. The silvery glimmer of Isolde’s skin as she bolted through the trees. Surely I’d spot some of that…she had to be naked if she was in human form. Oh, great. This night just got better and better.
“Stay here,” Saxon said when we hit the bottom of the ramp.
“As if.” I yanked my gloves out of my pocket and jerked them on. “Is she going to hurt my sister? Be honest with me.”
He pulled his face into a grim scowl, and a small vertical line appeared between his eyebrows. He shook his head and lowered his voice. “I don’t know.”
“Then don’t tell me to wait here.” I rolled toward the tree line at the head of the trail. “Evey! If you’re out there, answer me!”
The sound of a twig breaking up the path halted my breath. Saxon was behind my chair in an instant. We sat motionless and perfectly quiet for one second, then two, then three, then…
A streak of silvery nakedness—all arms, legs, and a cape of long wavy hair—leapt from the brush and took off down the trail. Isolde’s voice filled my head, and by the way Saxon grit his teeth, he heard it too.
You’d better find her before I do.
Gasping, I shoved my wheels with every ounce of strength I had. I must have been running on adrenaline, because I hit the root in the ground with a slam and bounced right over it as if it were little more than a toothpick in the dirt. My wheels caught momentum quickly, thanks to the downward slope of the trail, and I was able to keep sight of Isolde’s hair flying out behind her running body.
Saxon’s voice screamed through my head. Luna, no! Wait!
“Evey, where are you!?” I shrieked, grunting as I pushed my wheels. I was about ten feet behind Isolde, and could see her silvery skin through the trees. My heart throbbed in my chest so hard, I was pretty sure my clavicle would splinter, but I didn’t stop to catch my breath. I just assaulted my wheels again and again, pushing myself further down the trail.
Evey. My sister was out in the woods because I’d run my mouth and embarrassed her, and now she had a lot more to worry about than a bruised ego. Letting my guilt propel me, I bound around a massive pine tree and made a grab for the end of Isolde’s hair.
“Dammit!” I hissed to myself when I missed, terrified tears stinging the insides of my eyelids. It was one thing to mess with me, to try to drown me, but threatening to hurt my sister? Now Isolde and I had a real problem. I was going to throttle her myself.
With a crunch and a rustle, Isolde jumped off of the trail and into the brush.
“Come back here and face me!” My voice came out rough and jagged. My lungs burned as I pushed forward, but I didn’t slow down. “Evey! This isn’t funny anymore! Where are you?”
“Geez, what?” Evey stepped out from behind a thick-trunked cedar tree. She was wiping tears off her face, and my already strained heart gave a squeeze. She turned in the direction of Isolde tearing through the bushes. “Who’s that?”
I’ll get her! Stay with your sister! Saxon jetted past me and sprinted into the dark thicket.
“OK!” I rolled to a stop at Evey’s feet and hunched over in my chair. My arms burned, and my fingers were stuck in their clenched position.
“What’s OK? What’s wrong? Where’s Saxon going? Was that Declan in the woods? Are you OK?” Evey’s questions were coming out like bullets, and I had to hold up one of my cramped hands to stop her.
“Mom…and Dad…are at…home.” I wheezed in between gulps of air. “I’m…so glad…I…found you.”
“Of course you found me. I wasn’t hiding from you.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “Well, maybe I was.”
“You need to go home.” I swallowed another pull of air and pushed my sweaty bangs back from my face. “It’s dangerous out here.”
She ignored me and peered into the trees. “Seriously, who was it? They weren’t wearing a shirt.” I saw slivers of Evey’s scandalized frown in the moonlight that cut through the trees. “Apparently people get naked a lot in Pend Oreille. Who knew?”