Onward and upward

Next Monday, I officially take over the bookstore that I’m buying. A new chapter in my life and I couldn’t be more excited. Before I was a writer, I was a book lover. The opportunity to run my own business was too good to pass up.

Yes, I realize that I’ll be working a lot, and have to make sacrifices with my time but this is one of those moments in life where you either go for it or you live with the regret of what might have been.

I thought I would be trapped in the dark spiral of the last few years. Relegated to fighting back memories and shame.

But time and distance have been my friend and propelled me into a new direction I never thought I’d be able to travel.

I’m ready for the second half of my life. It will be hard, it may be frustrating but I’m ready for the challenge.

I’ve gotten back to me, who I was so long ago. The laughter, the love and a new way of looking at the world around me has allowed me to relegate the negativity to a dark corner in my mind, hopefully locked away forever.

Everything I’ve experienced has brought me to this pivotal point in my life. I go forward knowing some universal truths, I’ve always read about but never experienced.

I know that looking to someone else for validation, to tell me I’m a good person and worthy never works out for long. It has to come from within and you have to really believe in yourself. Losing yourself in people and things never solves the issues that are in you. It’s a great distraction from dealing with those things inside of you that you don’t like but until you’ve learned to love yourself, believe in yourself and trust in yourself, life will never change.

I never dreamed I’d be in this place. A place where I embrace who I am. Where I don’t lash out at those who might hurt my feelings. I’ve come to take people as they are and if I can’t accept who they are then I don’t have them in my life.

There is an amazing kind of freedom in discovering what you’re worth. In taking care of yourself and finding my passions in life. I no longer live for other people but for myself. It’s opened me up to give more love and friendship without my ego expecting anything in return. And it’s amazing!

Will there be tough days? Of course, no one escapes the hard times but it’s how I choose to handle such things that is making the difference. This journey is about me. I no longer feel selfish for wanting things for myself. Not material things but people and places and experiences that I really love.

I thrive when challenged and buying the bookstore couldn’t have come at a better time.

My DH was considering moving us to North Carolina this year for work. He was going to transfer to a new facility, with moving expenses and more money to go along with it.

The truth is, I never wanted to pick up and move like that. Leave behind everything and everyone I knew. My friends, my family and possibly my oldest son. The idea of being separated from my first-born was more than I could take and I knew that I would have to refuse to move to a strange place where I didn’t know anyone. Being several states away from my child was unacceptable and frankly more money just isn’t worth being away from those I hold most dear.

There will be challenges ahead and certainly not perfect. No life ever is. I no longer strive to have the “ideal” kind of existence but live for what makes me happy. I don’t put my expectations on another person. Because when people do that they always end up disappointed. No one can ever live up to what you think they should be and its unfair to expect them to.

I refuse to fall into old patterns of waiting for the other shoe to drop or expecting the worst in a situation.

Learning patience and letting people be exactly who they are has been the hardest lesson of all.

Is it the yoga, the meditation, the exercise, I’m not sure and I don’t want to waste my time analyzing it. I’m only in control of me and as such can only look to myself for what makes me happy.

I’m thankful that 2015 is unfolding the way it is. There have been challenges but I’m learning to navigate my way through. And I look forward to many more years of happiness and contentment in my life and hope to bring a little joy and love to those around me. The world is a very lonely place when you cut yourself off from everything. I did it for a long time, but not anymore.

I embrace each day as a beginning and take pleasure in the small things it has to offer. I hope all of you can find your true path. Take comfort in close friends and family. Believe in yourself. Never settle. Never make life changing decisions in desperation for love and approval. Realize that you are unique and special and have a place in this world. Lay down the bricks that hold you in place and really understand that bad moments will pass.

Sierra

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Embarking on a New business

Another dream I’ve always had been to own my own business. That opportunity is finally taking shape. I’m entering into an agreement to run my friends independent  bookstore. If at the end of 6 months I still want the store then I will be purchasing the store from her.

It’s terrifying but so damn worth it. I have so many ideas of what I’d like to do with the store and bringing in more readers. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a very long time. Getting the chance to have my own place and be my own boss is a dream come true. I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to work for someone else. It can be stifling to people who hate working for someone else. Some of us just aren’t meant to have a boss. This is my chance.

Even with e-readers there are still a majority of readers who love an actual book. Like me they like holding a book, the feel of the pages etc…

When I take over the store I want to turn it into a great experience for customers. I hope to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. One where people can come and relax while they browse. I’m hoping to get authors I know to do book signings. I’ll be bringing back book clubs, special sales and events. I will be expanding the YA section and will work with my kids schools. There are so many things I’d love to accomplish and this is the perfect time. All my kids are in high school and that allows me the time I need to devote to the store.

I’ll be able to write more, read more and connect with people in general. I’m thrilled yet scared at the same time. I’m lucky that I have a very supportive family and my circle of friends to support me. I have the writing community and fellow authors I’m close to as well. I want the customers to have a great experience when they come into the store.

I’m looking forward to what the rest of this year will bring. I’ve been floundering for so long now and I was hoping that 2015 would be better. I can say that so far it is more than I’ve dreamed it would be and promises to be even better. I don’t count my chickens before they hatch anymore but things are definitely going in a great direction.

 

50 Shades of F**ked up!

  This weekend marks the release of 50 Shades in theaters. I’ve wrestled with this and haven’t written about it until today.

I’ll admit it, I couldn’t finish the first book. For me there was a huge ick factor in it. The female is barely an adult and a virgin to boot. Losing her virginity to a Dom who is angry and jealous made me very uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because I know too many kids around that age, ( I know I’m showing my age here…lol.) including my now 18 yr old son.

Writing about this subject is a delicate thing. Fans of the books are naturally going to defend this series and will point out that writers who are against this are jealous. I freely admit I’m envious of the book’s success, who wouldn’t be? But, it’s the content of the book that has me shaking my head.

BDSM is a complicated thing and this movie doesn’t even come close to being a healthy relationship. There are writers out there who do it right and do it better. When VJ and I wrote our Cooperate Affairs series, we did an insane amount of research and continued to do so when we started writing our novella series Scenes from Velvet Ice.  The world of BDSM is so much more than being tied and whipped.

While the physical aspects are wide and varied, the emotional component is really what it’s all about.

Safe, sane and consensual are the main components of such a relationship. Negotiation paramount. The power exchange should always be understood and followed. Laymen need to understand that it’s the submissive who has all the power, not the Dom. Spelling out limits, respecting each other and trusting the other person completely are just a few of the things that MUST happen to have a true BDSM relationship.

What bothers me the most, is that readers or movie goers, who aren’t familiar with the lifestyle will experiment with it and may end up getting hurt, either physically or mentally.

“But it’s only fiction!” I can hear people saying that over and over again.

Yes, it’s true, its fiction but for those who aren’t familiar with the delicate dance that is BDSM probably see this as an actual portrayal of such a relationship.Practicing what they’ve seen on the screen in their own lives, without the knowledge of the emotion toll they weren’t expecting and don’t know how to deal with.

Playing Dom and Sub without understanding the entirety of this kind of relationship has the potential to move from sex to abuse, and eventually some will confuse the acts themselves.

True, subs will enter contracts that are very specific in nature. What the limits will be and what crosses the line. Both the Dom and Sub know exactly what to expect from each other. The potential for abuse is very real and anyone seeing this movie needs to understand that it isn’t close to the reality of a TRUE BDSM relationship. There are plenty of curios people who may not understand that 50 Shades is nothing more than fiction.

For some the idea of this kind of play will seem intriguing and it can be a very satisfying relationship but the reality of what it means to submit, to put all your trust in another person, riding the edge of your limits, is delicate. Playing these games without understanding the emotions behind them is pretty scary.

Giving another person your absolute trust is difficult in most circumstances. I shiver to think that movie goers will leave the theater and go home and try to do what they saw on the screen. Then might be left afterwards feeling hurt, shame, and a whole host of other negative emotions that will stay with you. Make you look differently at your partner, if they accidentally hurt you because neither of you have the experience because they didn’t do any research on what it’s like.  I worry that abuse could be passed off as BDSM. That people will think it’s all about pain and that it could put a big rift between couples if they take things too far.

The warm up and the aftercare are just as important as the scene itself. These are deeply emotional times and it’s up to the Dom to see to his subs needs.

I’ve put my total trust in a lover before and when that trust is broken it is devastating.

  If you’re going to see the movie please keep some things in mind. This started as a work of fiction. Fiction that started out as fanfic for Twilight, not for BDSM. Melding the two is scary. If you’re unfamiliar with the lifestyle you shouldn’t look at this film as a “HOW TO” but treat it as nothing more than a complete fantasy.

If you want to know what goes on in a true BDSM relationship, there are plenty of authors who write  the reality of such a relationship is.

The best example is Joey W. Hill. She’s written these stories for many years and is so damn accurate about not only the physical but the emotion toll these relationships can have. She’s a must read if you want a real portrayal of a Dom and his/her Sub.

Before embarking on this kind of play there are several things you absolutely should do.

Read on the subject matter. There are plenty of non-fiction books that detail a real Dom/Sub encounter.

Visit a real dungeon, so that you can see exactly what happens say when you get whipped and ask yourself the hard questions.

Will any pain you’re given enhance the sex you have?

Can you give up control to another person?

Do you both understand that as the Sub, you can stop whatever you’re doing at anytime when you feel uncomfortable?

Do you understand that a Dom/Sub relationship is much more than whips, ropes and toys. It’s an emotional connection, one where you are both on the same page.

This kind of relationship can be the best thing ever or your worst nightmare.

Nothing is more dangerous to the heart, body and soul, then when people may possibly get abused and mistaking it for BDSM. Abuse is abuse…period.

As I’ve said there are  plenty of great fiction that presents a truer perspective of BDSM. A lot of authors, including myself and VJ, who’ve been writing these stories for ten years. I like that this book opened up the door to this subject. Unfortunately the facts are wrong, this feeling it invokes in me are wrong.

Tread carefully and keep in mind this a fantasy and nowhere even close to reality. Indulge your fantasy, but always have the facts before trying anything.

 

Is there such a thing as too much angst?

pain  How much pain is too much? Do you search out books from authors that you know write characters who have dark, painful pasts? Or do you avoid them like the plague?

Authors, is it difficult for you to put your protagonists through hell and back again?

There are some writers who thrive writing these kind of characters. They enjoy digging in deep to the bones and stripping someone bare. Exposing every thing, shame, humiliation, pain, abuse, anger. Everything a person can go through. Everything they can feel.

I’ve written a few pretty intense books, usually with my writing partner VJ Summers and let me tell you by the end I’m emotionally drained. You feel as though you’ve lived a small part of what your characters have and for me it’s an exhausting journey.

I enjoy stories that are on the dark side, but I find that I do have a point that I just can’t cross. Not because the books aren’t well written. Not because the stories are great, but because with my imagination the story will stick with me. I will think about it and it will haunt me.

Millions have read VC Andrews. I did the Flowers in the Attic series and then I read Heaven. After that I had to stop.  Not because the stories didn’t entertain me. I just couldn’t deal with the suffering her characters had to go through. I wanted to reach into the books and shout “Run…and don’t look back.”

If I wrote nothing but stories like that I’m pretty sure my DH would have to pull me off the ceiling. My heart just couldn’t take it. I mean I once read a book from a well-known author (I’m not sure if he’s considered thriller or horror) but  after I invested my time reading the book (it was so good I read it in two days) he killed the hero at the end. I threw the book across the room as hard as I could and I’ve never read anything by this person again. Which is a shame because he’s a very talented man but I was so upset by what I considered an unnecessary death of the hero (he’d gone through so much) that to this day (I read the book over 20 yrs ago) I still haven’t forgiven him.

I’ve had the same reaction to a movie on a couple of occasions. I was watching a movie ( I can’ t remember the title) with my friend Amy and the freaking hero who was trying to find out who was responsible for killing a man in a ritual in the end gets killed in the same fucking ritual. So here we are knowing that all through the movie he’s going in at the last-minute to save a woman he thinks is being abused and sacrificed only to find out that she’s in on it the whole fucking time. O.M.G- yeah if it had been my movie it would have been in pieces on the floor but it belonged to Blockbuster so instead we both kind of paced around the room, yelling and bitching about it.

Now though, I’ve lived long enough to know what my limits are. I know how far I can go when I write until I say okay that’s enough. I’m lucky in that I have a writing partner who is very apt when it come to the harder emotional stuff. She helps lead the way for me.

My question to the readers is- How much angst do you like in your books?

Authors- How difficult is it for you to write a character who is really damaged?