How to Maintain Perspective

I always like to preface my post with how my blog topic ideas originated for me to decide the write an article. Many times, it by request. Today’s post, however, comes in response to a friend who probably is losing it has surrounded herself by persons who are enablers. Of course, that is my perspective of her situation. So, I’ll begin with an overview of what happened and then dive into a broad discussion of tips everyone can use to remain grounded.

I’ve known Jane (and no that’s no her real name) for over twenty years, and she used to be “normal”—or as normal as anyone can be. We met through work when I was a fledgling and had no clue about the world. She’s several years older than me, so, I did somewhat look up to her as an elder and being knowledgeable. Back then, she had never been married and had no children. However, she was dating a man (I’ll call him John) who was, in my female coworkers’ opinions, “a stud.” I was new to the area and didn’t know him; therefore, I took their word for it. At the time, she had been a studious worker, although, a little on the awkward, neurotic side—nothing too concerning—and got along with most others. Her corks and oddities were glossed over because who doesn’t have some weird aspects to his/her personality. Physically, she was petite and looked (with the exception of her face) like an average twelve-year-old—a feature that she got a kick out of but pretended to be annoyed by it.

Fast forward several months after I met her, and Jane and John became engaged. Now, I don’t know if this was out of a mutual genuine love, a con scheme, or a one-sided need to keep up with the Joneses. See, around that time, several mutual friends, colleagues, and coworkers had also gotten engaged and married. It was very clear that Jane was head-over-heels for John, and one obvious reason was because many women found him so attractive. Jane’s ego was inflated, boosted, or whatever one wants to call it because she felt she had something that other women envied, a trophy boyfriend, if you will. Anytime, she showed his picture or he came around, she would giggle and blush like a preadolescent. He didn’t have that same response for her. That wasn’t exactly a red flag because plenty of men don’t display those kinds of emotions publicly. However, this where things began to shift.

While colleagues were planning their wedding ceremonies, Jane stated that she and John had decided to have a destination elopement… kinda. I always viewed elopements as spontaneous or secret weddings. But Jane was open about the location and the date of her wedding. She even sent invitations to family and friends (although, no one attended). And she openly “planned” it for months. When I say planned, I mean made installment payment plans. See, she purchased a package wedding (no judgment), but here’s the thing. This here is the south, and even though things are modernized and brides are not as traditional, weddings still end up being big ordeals. There’s the fuss of finding the perfect wedding gown and venue and flowers, etc. And that was exactly what was occurring in our department. Every which way one turned there were copies of Brides, Bridal Guide, Town & Country Weddings, and Wedding Style. (Yes, this was era where people killed trees and glossed them up for their reading pleasure.) But Jane said John said he didn’t want to upset people by not including them in the wedding so the best way to avoid that was to go away and get married. (Okay…) It was obvious that Jane wasn’t aboard with this, but she quickly hopped on the train as more friends discussed their wedding plans. She’d make comments like “I don’t have to worry about that” or “I’m glad I don’t have that problem.” It appeared as if she was downplaying others’ wedding to compensate for not having one of her own. But this is my speculation. It was just very noticeable how this verbiage from increased as time passed.

Skip forward to her wedding that occurs approximately seven hours (drive) from where we lived. Her money has paid for a tacky arrangement of silk flowers which could have been gotten from the dollar store, grainy photos printed from a jet ink printer on standard copy paper, a ten-minute ceremony in a wedding cabin with no decorations or live music, and four days stay at cabin hotel a rung above a Holiday Inn Express and without the inclusion of a continental breakfast. Again, this isn’t meant to be shade, but the price she paid (and yes, I said she because she paid for it all and used her car for the drive) was astronomical for the product. This package robbed her bank account of six thousand dollars pre-tax. It would be a little more understandable if she’d rented an entire cabin. However, in all fairness, I think she may have said after the ceremony she and John were each given one glass of complimentary champagne. Must have been some champagne at those rates is all I can say. I mean, they could have paid twenty-five bucks to be married by the local JP and rented an entire cabin for less. And she would have had money left over to have her ill-fitting wedding dress altered.

Let me go off on quick tangent. I’m not body-shaming her by saying she looked like a twelve-year-old. She is a petite-framed woman under five feet tall, and at the time, she had no feminine curves. The wedding dress industry back then was much different than it is today. Her off-the-rack options were extremely limited, and the style of wedding dresses were lots of fabric, totally covered, ball-gowns. This woman shopped for her regular clothes in the children section in stores. It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t find a dress that fit. But she didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the dress because she had to have the wedding paid in-full before they could get married. The money was non-refundable. So, once she had set the date, she was obligated to make those payments. Both Jane and John worked good jobs, but John fell back on the tradition that the bride’s family paid for the wedding and the groom paid for the honeymoon. Only problem was that the “honeymoon” was included in the wedding fees. She paid for the travel gas, she paid for the hotel, and she paid for most of their meals. I know this because she showed her credit card receipts, and he never bothered denying it.

When she returned with the wonky wedding photos, she was disappointed that friends were underwhelmed. And here’s where the real fun begins. First, John quits his job because he decides he didn’t like it. He’s out of work for several months. He gets another job and says they should move to be closer to that job. They move. He finds fault in the apartment they’re living. They move again into a rental home. He quits his job. They move back to their home city. He finds another job months later. They move there. He quits for another job further away. They move to a “midpoint” between both of their jobs. He quits after a few months. They can’t move right away because they are stuck in a lease. So, she commuting forty-five minutes one-way on the interstate to work daily when previously she’d had a ten-minute drive. Her family is beginning to speak out.

Landlines were still a thing. John began controlling/screening calls from Jane’s family. He claimed it was because they were interfering in their marriage. John also had begun to let himself go. There’s nothing wrong with having love handles or a dad bod. He substituted his tight jeans and cowboy hat for sweatpants and a dude rag. When she flashed his pictures or he popped up at her worksite, her coworkers didn’t swoon, and that deflated Jane’s ego. Her trophy was no longer envied.

Then, came the alleged sickness. John claimed he was unable to work due to illness. He made appointments with specialists (this was before referrals were necessary) and ran up thousands of dollars in medical bills. Remember, he wasn’t working and was on Jane’s insurance. Jane was going into debt. Not only that, but she started to take off from work in order to “care” for him or drive him to an appointment. Supervisors weren’t too concerned because she had plenty of leave. However, they would eyeroll when they realized she wasn’t there. This continued for an extended time.

Moving forward, unemployed John decided they needed to buy a house instead of renting. Jane agreed. Now let me back up for a moment to mention an incident that occurred during a time he’d held a job. He’d gotten a job as a locksmith with a company, and Jane sometimes (although she wasn’t supposed to), went with him on calls. One day at work, she bragged about how one woman had locked herself out of her car on three occasions and one time at her house. Red flags were raised with her coworkers but we all were weary to say anything to her. Why? Because by then, she’d cut ties with her family. He’d given her an ultimatum—her family or him. So, when this house buying nonsense came up, Jane’s friends and coworkers were not all there for it. They were like “whoa, girl.”

Because she had used up so much of her leave prior, on the day the contracts for the house needed to be signed, she needed to be at work. She gave John the cashier’s check and her car (because by now he no longer had his truck because it had engine trouble from being wrecked) to go to the bank to sign the paperwork. And he did. The house was in his name. And yep, shortly after moving in, he kicked her out with the clothes on her back and moved in a “guy friend.” Jane denied that this relationship was anything other than platonic, but that’s not what the evidence suggests. Plus, the affairs he’d had with women during there marriage (including locksmith girl) had come to light. People who knew John growing up who’d now started working at the same place as Jane conversed incidence that gave support to John being bisexual. Living in such a conservative area that we were, I could understand why John may not want this information to be made public. And frankly, it’s not one’s (except his wife’s) business about his sexuality. But Jane was in complete denial that this man was nothing but a cheater. And the timing that he kicked her out couldn’t have been worse for her. It occurred a few days before she got paid. She and John had a joint-checking account, and her paycheck was electronic deposit. She couldn’t close the account alone, and there wasn’t enough time for payroll to process the paperwork to stop the transaction. Yep, he took her entire paycheck… legally. Why didn’t she go to bank first thing and withdraw the money? Because paychecks are deposited at midnight. He was smart enough to have a second account (without her name) and transferred the money seconds after it hit the account. She hadn’t thought to do that, and he beat her to the punch.

She had blown through her savings. Her family would have nothing to do with her. She’d pushed away her closest friends. Something else that had happened was that she wanted to have a baby, especially since the workplace had begun looking like a baby mill with the number of pregnant employees. Something had to be in the water. Wedding and engagement parties had been replaced by baby showers. It was a fun time. However, John informed Jane that it would be selfish for them to have children. He stated that he didn’t get along with his family, and therefore, he wouldn’t get along with any children they would have. She insisted that she (not him) be responsible for birth control. She decided on the Depo-Provera shot. In a short amount of time after, she gained more than thirty pound that to this day she has been unable to shed. This was a further blow to her ego.

She scraped together enough to rent herself an apartment, basically borrowing some money (that she had to repay) from her parents. I’m uncertain of the details (and I don’t want to know), but John walked away with everything in the divorce because Jane consented to give it all to him. I assume it partly was due to her not wanting the divorce and hoping this would put her in his good favor to change his decision. Later, she stated that she was afraid of him and the “guy friend.” (Mostly, she claimed it was the “guy friend” she was afraid of and believed he as manipulating John into believing bad things about her.) About a year after the divorce, the guy friend moved out of the house with John. John still wasn’t working and the bank foreclosed on the house.

This is the phrase where booze and prescription drugs entered the picture—or so we thought. According to a coworker who I met years later after meeting Jane and who had been one of Jane’s college professors, he indicated that Jane’s history with alcohol had begun long before this. He indicated that was how she’d met John in the first place. Back in the day, she’d always come across as very strait-laced, and this professor painted an entirely different picture. Jane was drinking daily, mourning over John. She constantly talked about him. She kept up with what he was doing with mutual friends. She was angry and bitter. When John was going through his “health problems,” he convinced Jane that she had health issues as well. She’d begun seeing several doctors. In hindsight, this may have been John’s way to increase his access to prescription medication. However, I’ve not heard anyone say that John has an alcohol or drug problem. I do know that he consumed alcohol and that he was being prescribed a lot of medication. The point is, Jane’s health declined, and she began taking off work. Whereas before supervisors didn’t care, now they did for three reasons. First, she was taking more than just a day here and there. She was taking weeks at a time. Second, she was running out of time. Her accumulated leave over the fifteen years she’d been employed had dwindled to nearly nothing. The times had changed. Lots of staff changes had occurred, and those happy-go-lucky employees had left. Many of the marriages of coworkers had also ended in divorce. There was plenty of bitterness to go around. A mean-girl club formed, and Jane, with her awkwardness and sour expression from obsessing over John, was not invited. Plus, she hadn’t been the nicest to her coworkers during her marriage.

Jane began associating with a new set of “friends.” They would stay in her apartment, eat her groceries, and drive her car without permission. They would steal her jewelry; yet, she continued to associate with them. They would even hold her hostage making her unable to come to work but allowing her to call in to say that she couldn’t come to work because she was being held hostage in order for her not to receive a work reprimand. She alleged that these “friends” claimed to have pornographic photos and videos of her that she does not remember making and were blackmailing her with their release.

Several wild stories and DUIs later, Jane lost her job. She admits her addiction to alcohol but not to drugs. She’s under the belief that if it’s given to her by a doctor then it’s okay and can’t be abused. She’s gone through rehabilitation treatment several times, but she does not attend AA. She continues to drink wine coolers because they are not “real alcohol” and having an occasional beer “won’t hurt.” She’s prescribed numerous prescription medications; although, she had to sign some kind of agreement that she will only be prescribed medication from one doctor. Apparently, if she violates this agreement she can be prosecuted. This may be a condition of her DUI case. She’s had three (that I know of), and she hasn’t served jail time for any other than being detained on the nights of two of her arrest. The third time, she was admitted to the hospital for injuries.

It’s been at least ten years since her divorce, and she’s still believes the sun and moon sets around John. In fact, he moved back in with her for a while as a “platonic” roommate that had absolutely nothing to do with him being kicked out of the place he had been staying with another “guy friend” who used John for his non-existent check. Since her divorce, she has not dated anyone else. Both of her parents have passed; so, John does not have to contend with them. They both receive disability checks; so, she doesn’t have to worry with slaving out a nine-to-five anymore. Each were able to move into disability housing and qualify for loans for persons on fixed-incomes.

So, here are the takeaways.

  1. Never define yourself by another person. There are so many problems with using someone else’s definition of what you should be. First, it assumes that they have some type of authority and know best. Jane in the story bleached her hair blonde. Why? Because John liked blondes. Jane’s natural hair color wasn’t super dark. It was more of an ash brown color, but she bleached it anyway. The bleach damaged her hair and forced her to get a hideous haircut. Second, if that person exits your life, you’re stuck not knowing who you are or how to function. Third, and most importantly, often times you don’t know how someone defines himself/herself. At the beginning of my senior year of high school, some adults (I’m not sure who) hosted a senior going-back-to school party. I know it was parents because some where present and also it was a private venue. And although the statue of limitations has long past, I wouldn’t name names if I did know because there was an open bar and two kegs that night. The class clown and one of the most popular students at my school who I’d known since kindergarten got pretty lit that night. He had buzz by the time I arrived, and I know because he knew his arm around me and kissed me on the cheek. That had never happened before. Anyway, like many drunks he began confessing his secrets. He admitted that he was extremely insecure and that having others laugh at him on purpose was a cover so they wouldn’t laugh at the real him beneath. He was a middle child of large middleclass/upper class Catholic family. He felt a lot of pressure of how he was expected to behave. Oddly, no one seemed to pay much attention to how smart he was. Although, he frequently got in trouble with the teachers and had to serve detention, he was an honor student. He’s not a prominent attorney. Many of the people who emulated him said he wanted to be rebel.
  2. Know your quality and your worth. Self-actualization (or whatever you want to term it) is a lifelong process. People continue to evolve and discover new things about themselves. Sometimes, people make poor decisions or choices. They have regrets. However, this does not mean that is all they are. It does not mean they are horrible people. It does not mean that they don’t have talents or skills. Sometimes, it takes stripping away the outer to see what’s within. If you do not value who you are, no one will either. Others view you as you view yourself. If you define yourself by someone else, others will, too. If you think negatively of yourself, others will, too.
  3. Do your research. Things are not always what they seem on the surface. There are lot of sources out there and not all are good. An elder at my church said there was no excuse for not knowing about the faith because it was all at our fingertips. Then, he held up his smartphone. He was older; so, I didn’t bother to disagree with him. But when you don’t know, you’re not always aware of being led astray. There were plenty of sites that listed wrong (sometimes intentionally) information about the faith. I knew it was wrong because I learned my catechism. Others who had were wanting to know more didn’t. Researching doesn’t stop at one or two sources. With Jane, she could have gotten clues about John from his relationship with his family. She could have asked his high school friends. She should have followed up on glaring red flags. John didn’t destroy her life as Jane would like to say. Jane destroyed her own life. She saw the brick wall, and instead of pressing the brake she put her foot on the gas.
  4. If it’s too good to be true, then it’s worth taking a second, third, or fourth look as to why it is. Good things do happen. When John and Jane hooked up, John was considered a “catch,” or at the very least, a bit of candy. On the contrary, Jane was homely with no suitors. So, why did John, a man who could have any woman, go for Jane? This is no shade towards Jane, nor does it imply that she was not worthy of John’s interest. But come on. You know there’s that moment when you’re first hooking up with someone that you ask yourself why the person is interested in you. And usually, you derive at answers like you have a lot in common, share the same values, or whatever. John and Jane had nothing common (other than drinking apparently). The truth was John was on the market because no one wanted him. He grew up in a small town, and everyone knew his ways. He cruised across the county line broaden his scope of unsuspecting. But much of the bar scene caught onto his act quickly. Jane’s professor said to me that John didn’t want to get married to Jane, that even during their courtship he had other women (and men). (By the way, the professor was gay and hinted that he’d seen John on the gay scene.) According to the professor, John was afraid her family and friends would convince her to end the relationship if he didn’t marry her. It had been clear for a long time that Jane wanted to get married. And when her friends and coworkers all started getting married, it heightened her desire. Plenty of people were whispering (not quietly) that he wouldn’t marry her. Jane was making excuses as to why he hadn’t proposed, but she had shown signs of cracking. Then, he proposed in July and rushed to get married in October.
  5. Physical beauty fades. Intrinsic worth does not. Jane admitted that once she gained the weight from the birth control, John rarely touched her sexually. When his extramarital affairs came to surface, his mistresses were the complete opposite of Jane. They were tall and curvaceous with long hair dark (and he said he liked blondes) hair. They wore heels and stylish clothes and makeup. Jane wore sneakers (mostly because she couldn’t find heels in her size and they discouraged footwear at work), elastic waisted pants, and flower-printed shirts. Her style was reminiscent of Sophia on the Golden Girls. These women were also considerably younger than Jane. Jane is about twelve years older than John, and the women he dated tended to be at least five years younger than him. There is nothing wrong with having a type, but when your spouse’s appearance changes, there should be a deep love. When John’s appearance changed, Jane still loved him. However, she didn’t get that reward from friends that she was envied. She shouldn’t have cared how her friends felt. And she should have expected that neither of them would look the same forever. Aging happens.
  6. Environmental influence can change one’s vision. Being around negative energy will likely cause you to be negative. Jane was low after her split and divorce. The work environment made it worse. Prescription drugs and alcohol clouded her vision further.
  7. Negative circumstances can improve. No one is doomed to stay where the wind blows. Those down times may show cause one to re-evaluate where one wants or needs to be. It’s like the phoenix. One must rise from the ashes after disintegrating. Jane was able to get herself out of debt, repay her parents, and later purchase a home. She even had her license re-instated that had been revoked, and she hasn’t had any more DUIs. John is back in her life. That makes her happy. She’s accepted that they aren’t a couple (for now). (I should note that Jane is under the impression that John isn’t dating and is remaining as celibate as she is. He may be. I don’t know because I’m not in his business like that. But I think that is why she is accepting of their not being together. Should he announce he is dating, I believe there will likely be issues.)
  8. Being stationary, inflexible, and having a closed mind will not make negative events cease, lessen, or disappear. One need to be open, tolerant, and willing to move forward. The past is there. Having a conversation with Jane is difficult. She never once fails to bring up the past multiple times regardless of the subject. It’s always preceded by, “Yeah, it’s like the time…” We may not forget the hardships, but we must learn and move on.
  9. Difficulties, trials, and tribulations will happen. They are all a part of life. The length of time they remain in a person’s life will vary. However, there are always solutions and paths to resolve or make less burdensome these things. The resolutions may not always be clear or simple to achieve, but they do exist.
  10. Personal responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and parts in situations. To this very day, Jane will insist that she was bullied out of her job. She asserts that she was treated unfairly and that there was no basis for her being let go. When her wrongdoings are pointed out to her, she deflects by giving an example how another worker engaged in a similar behavior as if two wrongs make a right. For everything that has happened to her, there is always someone else to blame in her opinion. She is a perpetual victim.

Thank you for hanging in there with me on this post. I know it was a long one, perhaps the longest I’ve ever written without splitting it into multiple parts. However, I didn’t want to divide this into a storytime and then tips. So, let me know what you think about this in the comments below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him. Grab your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors or BookBub.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

How to Brainstorm for NaNoWriMo

Today, I’m continuing my How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo series by talking about brainstorming. What to write about? It is a real question, and a question for writers must answer before they can get down to the nitty gritty of writing. Fortunately, there is not a right or wrong answer to this question.

The place where a writer will start and process of how to begin will vary from writer to writer. An excellent starting point would be to first select a genre. By selecting a genre, this will narrow one’s focus.

Next, select a theme. Some writers will become stalled at this point, and the brainstorming will begin here. This is a particularly difficult place to be stumped; although, it should be noted that a writer may become blocked at any point in the writing process. And trust me when I say, there is not minimal amount of time a writer can be blocked at a single point. Some writers have been stuck for years. Most times, sitting around awaiting a resolution to magically pop into one’s brain doesn’t happen. It’s not impossible, but it’s just rare. And awaiting an organic solution is rather passive. Being active will likely produce a solution faster. This is not to say that a better organic solution will not occur later. That has been known to happen, too. However, if the writer has a theme in mind, then his/her task has been made even easier and narrow down the brainstorming even further.

 In previous posts, I discussed genre (specifically the romance genre) and tropes/themes at length. I’ll try not to duplicate too much here. To read my NaNoWriMo prepping post regarding genre and tropes, click on the following link.

So now, let’s move onto brainstorming. What is brainstorming? Braining storming can be defined as a problem-solving technique that a person (or group of people) list/contribute spontaneous ideas to devise a solution that increases productivity. There are many forms of brainstorming. Some people outline while others make bullet lists. Some people use a mapping or association technique. Some people time their brainstorming sessions while others may collect ideas over several days. Again, there is no right or wrong answer to brainstorming as long ideas are being formulated. Some ideas my be farfetched or nonpractical. During the brainstorming stage, none of that matters. The objective is to create as many options as possible.

Now, if everything in this post is sounding pretty basic at this point, it is because it is. Often writing is a building process. Each step is additive. One of the reasons I failed at NaNo so many times is because I never started at the basics. I thought because I had an idea in mind (or even the beginning of a story), I would be fine in achieving a goal. The problem was… well, honestly, there were a couple of problems. First, I’m a pantser which is self-explanatory when it comes to how I feel about outlining and plotting. Being a pantser works well for me but not when I only have thirty days to work with. As a pantser, I sometimes… (who am I fooling?)… many times, write myself into corners that take me a few days to work out or backtrack. Rarely, do I write a story in order from start to finish. I also tend to be wordy, which again works for me because I get all the fluff out in editing. However, when one only has thirty days, that time spent text that is going to be cut is a waste of time.

Okay, brief aside here. I know some may be asking why write something I know will get cut. Well, at the time, I don’t always know that it is material that needs to be cut. For me, it’s sometimes a think on paper moment that I need to have the story happen or shape itself. Later, I won’t need it. For example, I may spend far too much time on a character’s backstory or begin a story far sooner than it should. Heck, sometimes, I just change my mind about something that changes the entire story. This is my process. It works for me and not for everyone.

So, getting back to my point, staring with basic information a writer to address any areas that may trip him/her up in his/her journey to being successful. It also highlights which areas a writer needs to include or omit from his/her preparations. Besides, reminders never hurt. Now, let’s dive a little deeper.

My biggest problem with brainstorming is the inspiration itself. I remember in grammar school, the teacher would say we should brainstorm a topic, and literally, my mind would go blank right then and there. The teacher would instruct to name the first thing that came to mind, and I’d say something like ice cream cones and the topic would be the Byzantine Empire. It would be a complete and utter disaster and the teacher would chastise me for attempting to be funny when in reality my brainstorming skills flopped. I didn’t understand why this was and disregarded brainstorming as useful. This brings me to the first point.

  1. Don’t discount brainstorming as a waste of time. Having this attitude will guarantee the task will be a failure. Many writers are eager to begin writing but then sit clueless in front of a blank computer screen or worse, write a bunch od dibble. If you’re baffled for story ideas or the direction a story should take, set aside time for a brainstorming session (or more than one if necessary) and have confidence the process will work. Write down random thoughts, ideas, and interests.
  2. Environment. Ensure that your surroundings are inducive to creativity. In short, visit places that inspire you or is known for creative energy. These may be places such as art galleries, concerts, plays/theatre productions, movies, beautiful countrysides, beaches, monuments/parks, mountains, festivals/carnivals, etc.
  3. Activities. Do things that you know cause you to be more creative. Some people get ideas while exercising or cleaning. Listening to music, eating certain foods work for others, meditation, and visualization methods that work for other people to increase their creativity. Just don’t become so involved in the activity that you forget to think.
  4. Bookstores. Walk around a bookstore in the genre you’re interested in and view subgenres. There may be topics that you’re interested in but hadn’t considered writing. Or maybe…
  5. Personal Wishlist. I’m going to use an adult word here that is likely to stir up a bit of dandruff, but don’t come at me too hard. Bear with me and hear me out. The word is fetish. Hang on. Don’t run off. It’s not what you’re probably thinking. (Or maybe it is.) According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one of the definitions of a fetish is an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion. This sounds pretty negative, and for that reason, many people keep their fetishes a secret. But when the number of people with fetishes are added together, that number is not small. They may not share the same fetish, but they have a desire that isn’t mainstream and that isn’t being discussed. In the same light, there are books that aren’t written because the subject matter isn’t in the mainstream. Someone proclaimed that no one wants to read that type of material (whatever the subject material may be). However, there is an audience for everything. So, if you have a desire to write something, write it. In the words (kinda) of Field of Dreams, if you write it, they (readers) will come (read). Thus, write what you would like to read. Brainstorm what interests you personally.
  6. Uniqueness. Don’t worry about producing for trend unless what is on trend is truly a passion. I’ve discussed this subject in past posts as well. In short, when a writer chases a trend to make a quick sale, there are several issues. Writing for a trend can backfire. To break this down for NaNo where writers are attempting to complete a 50,000 manuscript in thirty days, if the writer is not into the story because of passion towards the story, he/she may stumble writing a unique story. In short, he/she may find himself/herself regurgitating a book already published. Take the Twilight series. There were plenty of books written about vampires before it. However, the author, Stephanie Meyer, created her own unique spin on vampires. The success of her series made the vampire trope very on trend. As a result, there is a barrage of vampire books many of which uses Meyer’s formula. Of course, publishing houses are going to pump these books out because they are in it for the money. Many of the books are quality, but some are poorly written cash-grabs. The market becomes saturated, and after a while, readers bore of it. And what new readers must remember, if first impressions mean a lot. Branding means everything. If someone says Stephen King, what is the first word that pops in mind? For me, it’s a book or movie that about to scare the crap out the reader/audience. If a new writer publishes a vampire book because it’s on trend and the then his/her next book is about a civil defense attorney fighting a corrupt nuclear plant that is polluting a town’s water system, that is going to convolute branding for that writer. Readers like to know what to expect from authors. That’s what makes a lot of readers return readers. Thus, when brainstorming, formulate ideas that will be unique to you and not what is on trend. Besides, by the time you complete the manuscript and have it polished for publishing, the trend may be at its end. Then, the writer is stuck with a book that’s not going to generate much interest.
  7. Dream Journal. This isn’t exactly a part of brainstorming, but it’s worth mentioning. Dreams are a wonderful source of writing material. The issue is that many people do not remember their dreams. One way to help remember is by keeping a dream journal beside you bed to immediately write down any dream before it fades. These dreams may be a jumping off point for brainstorming.
  8. Questions. Ask yourself questions. What is it that you want your story to say? What point of view do you want your story told? Do you want it to be dramatic or humorous? Where (location) do you want your story to take place? What is the time period? Who are the characters? What is the main plot? What is the subplot? What events happen in the story? Think of all the questions you will need to answer in order to be able to write your story, and answer each of them thoroughly.
  9. Internet. Aw, I’ve come to that unspeakable demon seed that I cannot exclude. The internet can be helpful to developing ideas for a story. It is perhaps the grandest of all brainstorming techniques/tools. However, it can send you into a spiral of unproductivity. I need a Pinterest intervention group. And let’s not even talk TikTok. But if you’re someone who has much self-control, there are many websites that list story ideas. Read through them and see if any spark interest.
  10. Research. As a pantser, this is an area that will grab me in a chokehold death-grip in a heartbeat. I may come up with what I consider a brilliant topic and begin writing a story. Then, I realize I don’t know a certain element that I need to know in order to make the story authentic. For example, when I wrote a medical romance about an ENT, I realize there were some aspects of procedure that I did not know. I thought I did because I’d seen many movies with ENTs. The one day, I watched a broadcast about one of my favorite movies whose main character was a first responder. Many of the scenes revolved around his job and coworkers. And do you know this broadcast had the audacity to point out factual flaws in the script? I say that sarcastically because this broadcast was spot-on correct. I hit up several ENTs and questioned the procedures in the movie and quickly realized that I couldn’t go on what I’d been watching. The reason I bring this up in the brainstorming prepping phase for writing is that putting off research can slow the writing process. If I need my ENT to talk about a medical condition, I need to know about the medical condition. I write sports romance. Occasionally, rules change, and those changes may be important to a story. Now again, because I’m a pantser, it doesn’t bother me to stop writing to conduct research. However, having only thirty days to complete a story throws a monkey wrench into the mix. There have been times when it has taken me several days to find the proper answer to a question. Finding some answers is like searching for a needle in a haystack. And when the answer is finally discovered, you may need to brainstorm the answer further.
  11. Garbage. No brainstorming session is garbage even if it may seem that way on the surface. Do not throw away any brainstorming ideas. Sometimes, a writer will have a good idea that does not click with him/her at the time he/she has the idea. However, later it may come together. I once found that I had two story ideas but get kept getting blocked in writing either one. I later realized that my two main characters belonged in the same story as adversaries. I didn’t have two stories after all.
  12. Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse. I’ve mentioned this previously in this post, but it’s worth mentioning it again. At the brainstorming stage, do not evaluate or critique the validity or substance of ideas. It’s too soon in the process for that. You’ll have plenty of time later. The purpose of brainstorming is to create ideas, not to eliminate them.
  13. Grouping. Once a writer compiles a list of ideas, he/she should group them together or combine like ideas or concepts. Many ideas may overlap. This may be a good thing because the it may reveal what interests the writer most. It also reduces the number of ideas, making it easier for the writer to focus.
  14. Word Association. Write down a series of topics/subject and list words that you associate with them. The more associations once can make, the stronger the concept becomes.

And those are my tips on brainstorming and what I’m using to prepare for NaNo. I’m sure there are plenty more out there. Did you find any of these helpful? What strategies do you use? I’d love to here your opinions and suggestions in the comments below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him. Grab your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors or BookBub.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

How to Be Your Best Self

A few weeks ago, the sad news of Chadwick Boseman losing his battle with colon cancer shocked the world and served as a huge reminder that to many that we never know what another person is privately suffering and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. We must share with others how we feel about them while we can. It’s so easy to put off or take for granted what we should do and appreciate today.

Prior to his death, I didn’t know much about Chadwick Boseman’s private life. I was inspired when I heard his story, and honestly, it made me want to do better. As ill as he was, he never quit striving or working. He didn’t ask for sympathy or sorrow. He didn’t make excuses to not give his fullest effort. He didn’t even speak out when people harshly criticized his appearance while he secretly fought cancer. Yet, I find myself discouraged sometimes by the little things—things so trivial they shouldn’t hit my radar. And as usual, I went to friends and writing companions to ask them if they felt the same. Not surprisingly, the answer was yes. So, I decided to write today’s blog on How to Be Our Best Self. Let’s go.

  1. Take care of yourself physically. Do not skip annual physical exams and medical checkups from your doctors. Get screened as recommended by medical professional.
  2. Take daily medication daily. Yeah, I know that sounds like a “duh,” but then there’s people like… well, me who when feeling okay may skip that iron supplement or blood pressure pill. It’s only one day, right? Then, one day turn tow two, three, twelve, twenty.
  3. Take mental breaks when necessary even if discouraged by others. A mental break may be a moment of meditation, vegging on a couch, or a month-long vacation in the Alps. This will very from person to person. The important thing is to clear the mind of stressful thoughts that provoke anxiety or negative energy towards self or others. Destressing is vital.
  4. Make lifestyle changes for real. Don’t just say it. Do it. If you want to lose weight, you can. Go to the gym. Pass on desserts. You have the inner strength to accomplish it. If traveling to France is what’s your heart’s desire, save the money. Have a garage sale. Collect aluminum cans. Pass on dining out. The little things will accumulate over time. Whatever you want can be obtained in time if you start small and persist.
  5. Don’t be discouraged. Not all dreams come true. I know I just wrote anything is possible with effort and here I am writing the contrary. However, sometimes life happens that alter the path in a different direction. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, Alternatives are better than the original. Be open to changes in that regard and re-evaluate if the original goal is what is truly desired. An associate constantly expressed how much she wanted to live on the beach. She would surf Zillow for beach home and watch the real estate programs on Home & Garden network. Then, a hurricane destroyed the coastal area she was dreaming to relocate. This gave her pause to reconsider. Suddenly, coastal living wasn’t as appealing to her.
  6. Recognize and rid life of toxic people. I had a former supervisor who praised me highly—at least, to my face. I have no idea what he said behind my back, but I couldn’t imagine it would be that much different. However, I could be wrong on that, but that really isn’t important to my point here. This supervisor who was married at the time became intimately involved with another supervisor who happened to be his supervisor. This was against company policy. Instead of firing him, he was given another position (a promotion) so that his lover would not be his supervisor. Flip forward some years later, I had an opportunity for advancement, and he was one of the people who could make the recommendation for me to advance. His word would have held a lot of power. But do I believe he fought for me? No. He’s a yes man who is only out for himself and what’s between his legs. (Yes, I said what I said.) At first, I was upset by what I truly think was his response. But then, I thought about it. He doesn’t owe me anything. Just because I was a good employee for him does not mean he is obligated by any means to sing my praises or give me a recommendation for doing my job. He’s entitled to his opinion if he thought someone else was more worthy of the promotion. And it’s irrelevant that he clawed his way to where he is by sleeping with the higher ups. Honestly, he’s no different than a lot of people in the world. Why should I have been hurt or even disappointed by his lack of support? I needed to re-evaluate the situation, and the conclusion I formed shocked me a little. While he owes me nothing, I owe him nothing. I don’t have to sing his praises, either. I don’t have to go above and beyond the basic minimum of job requirements and invest extra energy when I could spend that time and energy investing in myself. If it’s quid pro quo, I can give the same return as invested in me. He’s a toxic person to me whose actions cannot not be changed. Instead of reflecting on what happened, I can move forward in my career in a path that does not include him in any way. I’m the master of my future, not him. I began progressing in other ways.
  7. Learn more. I’m one of those people who don’t like being in the box but sometimes find myself there. In a former position, the supervisor would talk about using “tools in a toolbox.” This was a bunch of fancy talk bunk that sounded good but belong in a septic tank. Here’s why. Each time staff would attempt to use a tool, administration would say that tool couldn’t be used. That proverbial toolbox as perpetually empty. The administrates wanted the formulary protocol implemented despite repeated failures to work. In short, they were going to force a square peg into a round hole and bitch when they weren’t successful. Oh, they may call the circle an oval and the square a rectangle, but the results weren’t changing. And for them, it was too beneath them to ask staff. And for some time, I was brainwashed to believe that their formula was the only formula. Hence, I was stuck in that box. Then, I had a job change, and low and behold, those people had a completely different way of viewing situations. They encouraged creativity, and as a result were more successful. And it makes sense. Think of those most successful people in the world. It’s the people who created something, whether it be art, technology, medical breakthroughs, scientific theory formulations, etc. It’s the people who dared venture outside of the box.
  8. Lose inhibitions. The world is changing. More is being accepted on the daily. Speak your mind. Live your truth. Venture out of your shell. Not everyone will be accepting, and there may be some short-term losses or negativity. However, in the long-haul you will be your free authentic self not bound by chains of self-suppression. I remember taking the leap to write. It was scary. It was putting a part of myself out there for the world to critique and criticize. But that’s all part of it. Not person can be pleased. But isn’t please just one person enough? Isn’t putting a smile on one person’s face or helping one person get through the day worth a thousand criticisms. Last story of this post

Years ago, there was a man who had a horrible upbringing. Both of his parents had been married multiple times, and while he had eighteen half siblings and/or stepsiblings, he had no full-siblings. As a youth, he bounded around between his parents’ households and wasn’t very accepted. He grew to be a rather bitter person. However, he had a friend who accepted him unconditionally, and he latched onto this friend hard—so hard, that he become possessive. He did not want this person to have other friendships and interfered when he did. The only small exception was his friend had a close relationship with his family. The friend’s biological mother was deceased but had children from a previous marriage. The father had remarried but no children with his second wife. This blended family worked and was functional. Anytime the person would behave in a manner that would cause discord with his friend’s family, they checked him at the door. It was clear that the family wasn’t bulging and he would never come in between them. For that reason, he was semi-cordial to his friend’s family.

It’s fair to say this man had only one friend and no one really liked him. But something happened to change him. No one knows quite what, but he seemed to try to make an effort with people. Maybe it was because his one friend had become involved in a serious romantic relationship and had become a father. Problem was, no one bought into his change. He’d schemed so much in the past, people assumed it was another one of his trick or ploys. They treated him with the same distain, suspiciousness, and aloofness. Then the news came one day, he’d attempted suicide.

Most say suicide is a cry for help, and on some levels I agree. But what he did was beyond a cry. I will not get into specifics other than to say it’s only by the grace of God he continues to walk this earth. He did not tell anyone (not even his one friend) of his plans before carrying them out. He paid off bill he owed and prepaid for his funeral. He had written out such detailed instructions that had he been successful no one would have needed to do anything other than lock his front door. It was obvious he’d considered this for months.

After a recovering from his injuries, he began psychotherapy and was prescribed medication for depression. His one friend was afraid he would make another attempt and called upon his friends to befriend him. However, the man was very withdrawn and reluctant to accept help from people who reached out to him. It became apparent that he was emotionally fragile and afraid of people. Yet, there a woman who, in the past, he’d expressed an interest. When she reached out to him, he began to open a little. Eventually, they entered into a relationship. During their courtship, they resided in two separate towns. One weekend he traveling to visit her. He stopped in a different town to get some gas. As he was filling his tank, he saw a friend of his best friend. He waited for her to look in his direction and gave her a sly wave. In the past, he’d not treated her so nicely; therefore, she was one of the persons who had been skeptical about his change. She waved back but not enthusiastically. When she’d filled her tank, she began to leave but said she had a weird feeling. Instead of leaving, she approached him and made the general small talk for one or two minutes. She turned to leave, but the weird feeling remained with her and turned back to face him.

She asked him how he was feeling, and he replied with a generic “I’m fine.” But she felt that he wasn’t. So, she said to him that if he needed to talk, she would listen. It was a sunny day, and he was wearing dark sunglasses that she couldn’t see his eyes. However, when she said he could talk to her, a tear rolled from the side of his glasses down his cheek. She later discovered that he’d ran out of his medication and that his prescribing doctor was out-of-town. The nurse he’d spoke to had told him he’d have to call back the next week. As a result, this man had been without his depressive medication for five days. He’d gone to an afterhours clinic, but they refused to refill his prescription and basically accused him of drug seeking. She threw her arms around him and pulled him in for a hug. At that point, he broke down into sobs. He was barely holding on mentally.

She called his girlfriend and informed her of the situation, and then called her husband to tell him what was going on as well. This woman and her husband drove the man to the emergency room in the town that his girlfriend lived. He was able to get some help.

Today, he’s married to the woman he was dating then and has three children. His relationship with his parents and siblings has not improved. In fact, they are less involved in his life (which as toxic as they are isn’t a bad thing). He’s still friends with his best friend, and he’s formed many new and healthy friendships. He’s worked through many trust issues, and he’s let down his guard to allow persons to see the real him. During this 2020 quarantine, he started a TikTok page where he embarrasses himself (and his family) doing dance challenges. He’s really an awful dancer, but his ability isn’t what’s important. He’s having fun, and it’s fun to watch him having fun. Where he used to bring misery to people, he now invokes smiles and laughter. He’s shed his inhibitions to show who he is and try new things.

For years, he’d been to afraid to share his real personality and feeling to the world. But he’s truly a beautiful person inside and out.

Are you being your best self? What tips would you give others as to how to live his/her best life? I look forward to hearing your comments below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

Buy your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or http://www.books2read.com/icegladiators

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

How to Prep for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for extra short) which occurs each November. It is an annual online challenge to write a 50,000-word manuscript in thirty days. Anyone can participate, and thousands do. This girl, however, does not. Why? I just may be the antithesis of NaNoWriMo. It appears to have the opposite effect on me. Instead of writing more, I find myself storyblocked and writing less. I literally will sit down to write and stare at a blank screen for hours with no ideas. If I currently have a story I’ve working on, I’m clueless of how to move the scene. About the only thing I can do productively is edit and even that is limited. Spell check and searching for omitted words fine. However, how to improve a scene or restructuring sentences to make them more dynamic is like attempting to catch smoke. It just doesn’t happen for me during NaNo. Call it a psychological block. I don’t know.

There’s a second reason I don’t participate. Professional writers will tell anyone willing to listen that writing as a profession isn’t only about a daily word quota. Writing 5,000 words in a day means nothing if 4,999 of them can’t be used. It’s not the quantity of words but the quality that matters. I forget who, but it is an author who is a best seller on just about every type of best seller list there is, said writing is her nine to five job. If she intends to support herself writing, she must ensure she is producing content. She can’t afford to have days where she is throwing away hours’ worth of writing. She compared it to a salesperson who works on commission. How many days can that person go without making a sale before their lifestyle is affected if that is the person’s sole source of income? She further explains when she throws away a day’s worth of writing, she’s throwing away a day’s pay. Looking at it from that point of view, it makes a lot of sense.

Another thing a professional writer will admit is writing is a business. That means there is a business side to it beyond writing words. This business side may include maintaining an author’s website, responding to readers’ emails, constructing marketing plans, editing, professional workshops and conferences, forming a beta team of readers, etc. Well-established writers may have staff or teams to handle many of these aspects. However, for new or midrange writers, they are responsible for handling these duties. Thus, there may be days that a write does not have time to work on writing a manuscript.

If a writer is working daily, by the time NaNo rolls around, that writer may be juggling several projects. The author I mentioned earlier stated that she generally has three manuscripts that she is working on at all times. These manuscripts each are in different stages. One is in outline form, where she is mapping out what she wants to do and writing short details and descriptions about characters. The second is a draft. If could be a first draft or fifth draft. It’s incomplete and unedited. The third is in the editing stage, and the final is complete and with the publisher/editor. Each day, she must set aside a time to address each of these manuscripts. Hence, she would be unable to devote an entire day to writing for one manuscript. While under these circumstances it still would be possible to write a 50,000-word novel, it increases the difficulty level.

Now, this in no way slams or shades NaNo, nor is it to imply persons who participate are not professional writers. This post is not saying that at all. On the contrary, NaNo can be and is for many an excellent motivational tool both for new and established writers. It is one way for writers to hold themselves as well as others accountable. Furthermore, it is a project event that brings the writing community together. NaNo groups encourage, advise, and support each other. Sometimes, it is this support and advice that is needed to help a writer complete a manuscript.

Since I’ve failed at NaNo each year I’ve tried and this is 2020—a year that has sucked beyond imagination and has caused me not to achieve so many other goals already—I decided to give the NaNo challenge another go but on my terms. In other words, I’m not going to follow the rules. Some would call that cheating and to that I say “SO? What’cha gonna do ’bout it? Nothing.” Seriously, NaNo is flexible, and I’m going to use that flexibility to my advantage. Here’s my plan, and maybe others would like to join me on my voyage. The worst that could happen is that we all sink like the Titanic. Although, you know, there is a conspiracy theory floating out there that the Titanic didn’t really sink and that it was swapped with a liner named Olympic as part of an insurance scam. I’m not saying anyone should buy this theory. I’m just putting it out there because it makes my bending the rules insignificant. (Actually, they were that anyway except in my mind.)

  1. I’m starting early. Well, not really but kinda sorta. See, I’m a pantser. Everyone knows this. NaNo requires at least some small amount of organization, which I have none. Zero. Nada. Therefore, I’m using the months of September and October to prepare for November. (Boy, my anxiety level just flew through the roof writing that.) This is going to require me to make lists, investigate what writing entails, and existential self-exploration.
  2. I’m not going to write a 50,000-word novel. Nope. Not happening. I refuse to pressure myself that way. And I bet people are asking well what’s the point? Hmm. I may, however, begin a new writing project, but I won’t have a target word count or completion date.
  3. I will not count any of my prep work as counting towards meeting NaNo goals.
  4. I will not have a daily word quota. Okay, not true. I must have at least one sentence of a minimum of five words. Otherwise, I could skip days and have the same results as every other NaNo. This sentence must be original content related to fiction (or a non-fiction) project. It cannot be a grocery list. However, it may include a brainstorming list as long as it is in sentence form.
  5. I will not have a daily writing time quota. Some people have designated times when they write, and I can see how this would be helpful. Many have a set amount of time they need to write. One famous writer states when she sits down to write, she writes in four-hour blocks as if she was clocking in to a nine-to-five job. While this makes sense to me, this isn’t feasible. If I wish to be successful at NaNo this year, I have to position myself in a way that is not doomed for failure. I already know there will be days I will be unable to dedicate four hours to writing, let alone, four-hour chunks. Also, it may stifle my writing to be this specific. (Pantser.) What happens if I were to set my writing time for the morning and sit there uninspired but develop a great idea that afternoon but am tied up doing other things which I could have done that morning had I not been sitting stumped at a computer?
  6. I will write something daily, but it does not have to be a manuscript. The writing can be anything creative or advancing my craft or career. Therefore, this could be writing blog posts which I do weekly anyway (Wednesdays at 10:00 CST and sometimes bonus posts on Mondays). During NaNo, I’m upping the ante to improve my blog posts in some way. It has to be an improvement or it does not count. This daily writing may also include writing blurbs for completed books or updating website pages with new content. I don’t normally do microfiction, but who knows? Some just might show up in the bayou.
  7. I suppose I should add a part B to that last one. Writing on social media will not count towards my NaNo writing unless it is to post a work of fiction of at least 50 words. I have to add this, because I do spend a great deal of time on Twitter.
  8. I will have an official place where I document my daily progress to ensure that I’m not cheating in my cheating.
  9. I will make a conscious effort to have handy at all times a place to jot down my brainstorming or story ideas. Usually, I have my phone with me and email myself or use the note section. However, sometimes, if I’m talking on the phone or doing something else, I don’t want to interrupt to try to get my email or notes. I have a small writing bag that I keep colored pens, a clipboard, notebook, and highlighters. The notebook is a place not only where I write I ideas but research notes, checklists, formatting instructions, and helpful writing information. I use it for as quick reference. I don’t’ have just one notebook because pages often get ripped out or smudged (because something leaked on them) in transfer. I use a backpack, and it’s a mess. So, I suppose that should be another rule.
  10. Prepare and organized a good writing bag with all writing materials needed in any writing situation. Included in this should be tissue, headache medication, bottled water, a small towel (to wipe seats or tables), and most importantly, a backup pair of headphone or earbuds. I’ve told this story previously, so I will give a brief summary as to not rehash why I think headphones are a necessary writing tool. I was in a public setting, and although there was plenty of places to sit and I had pulled a table to a corner and spread my belongings across the top, a many felt compelled to sit next to me. I couldn’t ask him to move. He had serious postnasal drip happening that was completely distracting. There were children making racket, and random people approached and felt they wanted to have a conversation with me despite my head being down and all up into my laptop. Headphone or earbuds can signal for people to keep a distance—although, this doesn’t always work. Listening to music not only blocks out my surroundings, but it boosts me in a frame of mind of writing. My earbuds are constantly breaking and/or malfunctioning. I have a pair of wireless ones that are good, but I can’t recharge them while they are in my ears.
  11. I will begin my brainstorming and to-list now. Some NaNo participants wait until November to do this, but others do this ahead of time, too. So, this isn’t a unique cheat. The brainstorming ahead of time will give me something to work with. The to-do list will keep me on task. For example, if I know I need to write a blurb but haven’t, I can add that on my to-do list. Because the point of NaNo is to complete a story. If I want to publish a story, it is not complete without the blurb. Therefore, to me, blurbs are technical parts of stories. Also, may need to edit a story. Usually, my edits require me deleting text, but sometimes, it requires me to add text (and then delete some). Again, if the aim is to have a complete story, a story isn’t complete without editing. Yes, I know the primary focus of NaNo is to create a completed draft, but I need editing to count. Oh, I detest some forms of editing, and I have files that sit there never seeing the light of day because they are unedited. Having a draft is good. However, drafts don’t become stories without editing.
  12. I refuse to allow myself to become discouraged if I have a bad writing date and do not make progress for that day. I will continue on the next day as if nothing happened. Years ago, I heard a dietitian speaking about reasons diets fail. She claimed that the number one reason people abandon their diets is that they fall off the wagon one day and think they have undermined all progress, and that undermining can’t be undone. That is why so many diets now stress that “slip” factor or allows for “cheating days.” I won’t include “cheat days” because that is an easy bad habit to slip into. However, I will forgive myself and continue if I do roll from the cart.
  13. I will measure my success of NaNo is if at the end of thirty days, I have produced significantly more writing or have more writing-related tasks completed than I have all other months in the year. For me, this will be a huge challenge, but I’m up for it.
  14. The rest I’m just going to fumble through as I go along. Look, don’t come for me. I already disclaimed that I’m a pantser and having a plan is more than enough.

Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Do you have a prep plan? Have you participated in previous years? If so, what was the outcome? What other rules should I add to my list? I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Leave them in the box below.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my sports romance Locker Room Love series.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

Buy your copy of Ice Gladiators at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or http://www.books2read.com/icegladiators

Missed the first two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

How Not to Get Fired

There’s a lot going on in today’s world, and most of it is cray cray. Many days, I don’t even want to turn on the television, radio, or social media to hear what has happened next. I find myself going through the day asking multiple times if life can calm the effing down and something positive happen. I don’t believe in chain emails or messages, but I almost want to pass them along just in hope of a small break from this reality.

Well, yesterday was a really horrible day from the moment I climbed out if bed. I’ll spare the details, but I should have taken a hint how the day was going to go much sooner than I did. I gave it my best effort and failed miserably. As a result of the crapball that hit all the fans and the air conditioner unit, I didn’t get my blog written. So, I’m left with today trying to figure out a topic. My mind is blank until I have a 1:00 o’clock meeting, and I realize there is a valuable lesson in what happened during that cesspool of an assembly. I’m all for a learning moment but not when those who need to learn the most slink away with even fewer brain cells. The names of morons have been omitted to protect the idiots.

I hate to mention COVID, but she’s the real bitch in this situation so I may as well call her out. Hoax or not (and won’t take any bait to debate validity or nonvalidity of the disease/ailment), I’d rather err on the side of caution. The situation that sparked the meeting is the matter of fully re-opening the place of employment. It’s overdue, sure enough. However, the higher ups being upset about it have no one to blame but themselves. Months ago, back in March before the world completely flipped and ran out of toilet paper and tequila, I argued that we should form a plan of standard operating procedures.

Additionally, I urged that we should order materials, develop a protocol, and prioritize which accounts to work on first. But no. Four months later, they, the gods and goddess of lower administration, decide to adopt some other facility’s plan which they’ve gotten ahold. Only problem is, this plan does suit our particular needs. It’s like a jockstrap. Yes, one is needed, but you really shouldn’t share with others. Yet, they are determined to make it work until it doesn’t. Hook that Frankenstein up and juice it until it lurches.

They reject my input which isn’t the best, but it’s durable—and better than the nothing they had. So, we wait some more. Another month passed. Now, it’s critical… not to me because I’ve moved beyond caring at this point. But jumping jacks the people upstairs have wadded up thongs that there’s staff hanging out in their offices doing nothing. It’s not that we have nothing to do. It’s that we were not allowed to do it. Again, their fault. But some of us lowly peons of worker bees are too beneath them to ask an opinion. They want you to just drink the juice and follow the lines drawn on the floor.

Now, there’s different levels of caring about this virus. I’m fine with a mask and keeping my distance. No skin off my back. I turn it all into a fashion accessory. Others buck policy while others are obsessed. So today, it’s decided that next week we need to reopen to the public full stop. Part of the plan is anyone entering the building must answer a health questionnaire the day before his/her visit, have his/her temperature checked twice the day of the visit, enter through the back door with a mask (and not remove it), slather hands with hand sanitizer, put on gloves, not sit on the “good furniture.” There was more, but why continue? Although, I must comment on this mask issue.

See, if they arrive without a mask, we are to refuse service…supposedly. However, masks were purchased to offer them. But because the masks cost money, we’re not to communicate that we have them. So, we would have to offer them a mask without telling them we have a mask. And we can’t sell it to them to for market value to offset the cost. And none of this is writing so it can be one big F.U. game of he-said/ she-said.

Anyhoo… Ninety percent of the meeting was dedicated to a discussion of preserving the furniture. I mean, it is acceptable if staff keeled over and died as long as the leather couch isn’t faded or tainted. It’s an okay couch and all, but nothing you’d find in Buckingham Palace. Heck, it didn’t even come from Ashley’s Furniture because that chain was considered too expensive. It came from a wholesale store.

Don’t get me wrong, I like wholesale stores, so no shared there. They have some great deals, but come on! It’s a leather couch. They are flipping out over how to disinfect leather. Yet, issues of how to handle persons who refuse to wear a mask or gloves or who arrive unscheduled were not addressed. Establishing a written guideline that all staff should follow to be approved by administration was dismissed. Literally, furniture came before health safety and legal precautions. Priorities, folks.

I really wanted to say something. But hey, I’ve had better conversations with brick walls. And that is what brought me to today’s topic: How to Not Get Fired (tongue and cheek version with a little help from friends in similar situations). Let’s go.

  1. Don’t point out the obvious that the director is too lazy and uncreative to develop a plan that actually works without redundancy and focus on trivial matters.
  2. Don’t highlight that you have more years of experience and higher degrees than the supervisor but failed to get on your back or knees in order to obtain a promotion like some of your fellow coworkers.
  3. Remember prohibition ended a long time ago, and it’s always happy hour somewhere.
  4. Remember that you live in the south, and it’s still too hot to get your lights cut off. You need AC.
  5. Consider that hurricane season isn’t over yet, and twister season is just around the corner. It’s not too late for all of them to be blown away. Or a house could land on them.
  6. It’s better to share a space with stupid people than lovebugs… Well, maybe. It’s debatable.
  7. Remember that God has a sense of humor so you should, too.
  8. Remind yourself that you sat through Snakes on a Plane, Romeo Is Bleeding, and Waterworld and survived. You can do an eight-hour day.
  9. It’s not too late to start smoking meth, and they don’t random drug test as often as they should.
  10. Remind yourself that you have more sex than any of your officemates. And not just good sex but 365 astronomical sex. So, speaking your truth isn’t worth it. (Disclaimer here. We all have that one friend who just doesn’t act right or respond normally when you ask them to answer a question for your blog but you know you have to include his answer because he may have a point. *sigh*.)
  11. That bargain basement overpriced couch and table are going to get ruined anyway.

So, those are my tips on how to not get fired. If nothing else, I hope this little ditty brought a chuckle to your day. We all need a giggle every now and again to get us through the day. Please share your tips below. And a reminder to any trolls, satire and fiction are genuine art and creative expression. If anyone who knows me thinks this post is about them, it isn’t.

Also, comment below if you enjoy this type of content and would like to see more. While you’re there, give this post a like and consider subscribing to this blog if you haven’t already.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

How Not to Be Led Astray by a Writing Group

For the most part, being a part of the Writing Community and writing groups is positive. However, there are pitfalls, and these pitfalls can be dangerous. This post is a cautionary tale. Before I begin, allow me to preface this post with a disclaimer. What I’m about to write is not indicative of all writing groups or members of writing groups. The intention of this post is NOT is bash writing groups or discourage persons from joining them. I strongly encourage anyone currently is a writing group of considering joining one to do their own research and ask other members who may have a different perspective. The information, herein this post, has been my (or close colleagues) personal experiences and may different from others. Some statements may be opinions, and opinions are not facts. Each person views situations differently, and diversity is the spice of life. Therefore, feel free to leave any comments of disagreement in the comment box at the end of this post. All I ask that you do so respectfully with no foul language or rude remarks.

In short, be wary of the advice received from writing groups. As many know, I’m a member of several online writing groups and have critique partners. My first go-to is always my critique partners. I tend to ask very unusual questions (cos I write myself into very unusual corners) and sometimes, my critique partners collective brains are unable to come up with a solution. There may be several reasons for this. First, we have worked with each other for years and have learned each other’s’ quirks. This is both positive and negative. The positive is that we can give advice to guide in the direction we know the writer was trying to achieve. We are aware of the writer’s strengths and weaknesses before beginning reading, and, therefore, know what to look for in that writer’s work. There are some errors I consistently make, although, self-editing for them. My critique partners know to check behind me for these types of errors.

A negative is that we sometimes are similarities prevent us from seeing a situation is a different light. For example, we’re all from the same region. If I write something that is known only locally or regionally, they may not catch it because it poses no problems for them. Case in point, in my last book, Ice Gladiators, there is a scene where Taz, the main character, is outside of his apartment. My editor flagged what she deemed to be a discrepancy the location. Her comment was legitimate. Most people unfamiliar with the region (unless an architect or someone having an interesting in historical buildings) would not have thought it was an inconsistency, too. None of my critique partners mentioned it, and it was something that I needed to clarify.

My critique partners are good, but they aren’t flawless. And they certainly don’t know everything. Sometimes, they are stumped. It is in these instances that I may seek out the advice from members of a writing group. If one chooses to do so, proceed using extreme caution.

Here’s a bias about me. I believe if I can ask a question, there is a real solution to it. And not only is there a solution, there is a CORRECT solution. I don’t believe in lazy writing. I believe that any writing worth reading is also worth an investment. I’m always trying to better my craft by learning. So, when I ask a question, I take all answers seriously and scrutinize them against what I know to be facts. Many answers given in writing groups can lead a writer so far off the correct path that he/she is lost in the writing woods like Hansel and Gretel. Do not eat that gingerbread.

As I mentioned previously, I tend to have complex writing questions. It’s not that I’m boasting that I’m so superior of a writer that I don’t ask dumb questions. I have dumb questions all the time. However, I use style guides regularly and am able to look up many of my questions without having to ask anyone. Other mistakes, I’m unaware that I’m making until my critique partners or editors point it out to me. Naturally, if I don’t know I’m making a mistake, I don’t know to question it. When I do ask someone for help, it’s because I’ve exhausted all of my resources unsuccessful or it is something that is not found in a style guide. And that is where I found myself. I decided to pose question to a writer’s group. Was I sorry? Most definitely. So, here’s what happened.

I explained my question, that this point was something important to plot, and then gave an example. I always like to give examples (if you haven’t noticed) for clarity. However, it never fails that someone gets wrapped up on the specific example and can’t move beyond it. They can’t generalize the example. For example, if I say a person can’t cook simple foods such as eggs, the person I’m posing the question to gets hooked on the eggs. Well, there’s other simple foods besides eggs. Eggs just happens to be ONE of the simple foods that can’t be cooked. Other comments were to leave omit it. I got lots of, “I wouldn’t do it if it’s not important to the story.” Didn’t I state in my question that it was important? Then, there were those generic that they couldn’t advise without more context. No, more context wasn’t needed. I gave perimeters in my original post. I was asking a style question, as in how stylistically is something done. An appropriate answer would have been, “I’ve seen it done this way” or “such and such author did it this way,” or even referring to me to a reference source. Heck, just point me in the direction that I need to go, and I’ll do the work to find my way. But no, that’s not how that happened. Two days later, and I have a stack of crap to sort through.

Now, in all fairness, I did get some very helpful responses in the group, and I appreciate each and every one of those responses. And also, not all groups that I asked in gave me these off answers. So, there are my tips how not to be led astray by a writing group.

  1. With large groups, it is difficult to know all of the members. Thus, there will be members with varying levels of writing experience. Some will be extremely knowledgeable, while others may not know how to construct a sentence. Therefore, a writer may be unaware of which is giving the writing advice. A good rule of thumb is to be a member of a group for several weeks before posting questions asking for writing advice. Instead, be a spectator (troll), and observe which member respond more often and appear to be respected by the group. However, do not be disillusioned by likability. Just because a member is prolific in posting or aimable does not mean that member is knowledgeable. A person who post advices frequently can be just as dingy batty as anyone else. Watch how others react to that person and if others are also in support of the advice. Sometimes, a person will give their credentials or list their website. Pay attention to these things and vet the person for yourself. It is not stalking if you’re viewing public information to get a feel for if this is a person that can be trusted.
  2. When posting your question to a writing group, keep the following in mind. A.) Be brief because many members are not going to read your question all the way to the end. B.) Spell check and proofread your question before posting. There are some members who are only there to tear down and become too absorbed in your typos to answer the question posed. C.) Use short sentences and simple words to ask your question. Remember that writing and reading comprehension are two different things. There are members who if presented with a compound sentence mind will explode. You can literally see it happening in the answers they give. I’ve screenshotted stuff to ask members of my critique group if I was writing in hieroglyphics or something. If women are from Venus and men are from Mars, some writers must be from Neptune. D.) Have a strong glass of something alcoholic handy when reading the response. I’m just saying this will help.
  3. Understand that you may not get an answer at all. Sometimes, posts get lost in the shuffle of other post. Other times, members are not interested. I’ve noticed in some groups that the post that get the most responses are not questions that require the person responding to have a knowledge of writing. Instead, it’s posts like “when did you first know you wanted to be a writer” or “when did you write your first story.” It’s questions that ask other writers to talk about themselves or their work.
  4. Addressing a question to certain members of a group may narrow down who responds and yield better results. For example, asking only editors in a group to reply followed by a technical question will likely be seen as a questioning coming from a serious writer. In one post, I explained how I was having difficulty understanding a grammar rule. I listed the rule as well as the sentence I was struggling with. I had several very knowledgeable people to help. What was better was others who were struggling with similar questions got in on the discussion. The post ended up being very long with so much useful information, more than I even asked.
  5. Before posting any questions to a group, do your best to find the answer yourself. Search engines are convenient, but they don’t always produce accurate results. Professional journal articles are a good source. Researching the old-fashioned way by going to the library and finding books on the subject is another good way. Here’s the rub on most libraries. Self-publishing has come a long way and has been the venue for many good writers to begin their careers. But there are some books that get published without editing or fact-checking. Many libraries are selective about the books they shelf. Therefore, it’s less likely that one will find a book in a library that is going to have these issues. And even if one does, there are plenty of other books there that will quickly dispel any errors. The library is free to use, and librarians are available for assistance. They also hold videos/movies, periodicals, and a host of other resources. When you find the answer on your own, you’re more likely to remember it in the future as well as gain other useful information in the process. When I was writing Out of the Penalty Box, I needed information about a hockey rule. In my research, I learned that some of the hockey terminology had changed. While that was fine for an old-head like me to use an outdated term, my hockey player characters would not. I likely would have not received that additional information had I posted my question in a group.
  6. As questions in advance of needing answers. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. It can take days for your question to be posted to a group. This I understand as a necessary evil but find to be extremely inconvenient. Because some members spam groups, ask inappropriate or controversial questions, and bully others, many writing groups screen posts. Because most group moderators have lives, a question may be left in the que box for days. This is very problematic if the question asked is one that a writer needs to continue writing. For example, a friend was writing a story that required police procedure that she hadn’t considered she’d need when outing. If she continued writing without this information and got it wrong, she would have to chunk it all. It took three days for her question to post. Because she mainly wrote on weekends, by the time she got back to writing, she’d lost that energy she’d have previously.
  7. Before posting a question to a group, scroll to see if the question has already been asked and answered. Many times, the answer will have been given, and you can acquire it without the headache of sorting through a mess of incorrect answers and trolls. And trolls…
  8. Do not have a writing group as your first line of resource. Remember, some members of a writing group will have good intention but still give bad advice. However, there are some members who intentionally spew bad advice. Why? No one really knows. Some people are rude and hateful. Some people will comment on a post just to be nasty. They will make fun of the person asking the question for not knowing.

So, those are my tips. I hope you find them helpful. Share your opinion below. What kind of experience have you had posting to a writing group? Also, comment below if you enjoy this type of content and would like to see more. While you’re there, give this post a like and consider subscribing to this blog if you haven’t already.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

What 2020 Has Taught

I don’t think anyone can or will argue that 2020 has not been a strange and difficult year to date. This blog has been inspired by friends, acquaintances, and coworkers who have been struggling to cope with many challenges since January. So, here are some lessons I think everyone has learned.

  1. Pandemics (real or not real–not debating the validity in this post) brings out the best and worst in people… mainly worse. We are all just one step away from Lord of the Flies mode.
  2. Alcohol is necessary for homeschooling.
  3. Most anything can be done online.
  4. People who had stick investments in Zoom are balling.
  5. Politics suck the joy from every waking surface.
  6. Mother earth is angry.
  7. Too much daily news is toxic and harmful to mental health.
  8. Some people can never be reasoned with, and logic to them is fictional.
  9. Entitled people are buttholes all day every day.
  10. Tik Tok will inspire people to make a fool of themselves on social media.
  11. Makeup/cosmetics don’t work well with masks.
  12. If ever entering WWIII, stock up and hoard toilet paper first.
  13. Pants are optional. (and so is bathing to some people)
  14. Amazon Prime is everyone’s best friend.
  15. People are willing to go to jail and shoot up cities for haircuts.
  16. White Claw.
  17. Social media allows access to far more information (and misinformation) than we actually need.
  18. Dumb people suck.
  19. Food Grub has replaced grilling.
  20. There are multiple definitions to essential.
  21. In a year, most people will have forgotten everything about 2020.
  22. If one looks hard enough, there is conspiracy and coincidence/similarities in everything.
  23. There are a lot of miserable people who can’t take a joke and unfortunately have not been sucked in by a blackhole.
  24. Anything can go viral on social media.
  25. Laughter is the spice of life.

I hope this list brought a smile today. Tell me, what are some of the lessons you have learned this year? Do you agree with this list? Let me know in the comments.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

How Not to Snap and Go All the Way Off and Throat-punch Someone When You Really Really Really Want To

This post is how not to snap and go all the way off and throat-punch someone when you really really really want to. Okay, let’s go. No intro. Well, maybe a brief one.

So, this post is inspired by underhanded, conniving, greedy, brown-nosers. This tale probably begins centuries ago, but I’m not that old to unscratch the origin story. Therefore, I’ll start about six months ago.

Picture it: a workplace filled with overworked and who wouldn’t be underpaid if the cost of living wasn’t so dang high employees. They are tasked with suppressing any opinions or original thought. Their job is expected to come before God and family, and to arrive at work during hurricanes, tornados, blizzard, and pandemics. All schools and daycares closed? No problem. Leave your rugrats at home alone. No one told you to have them. How dare an employee get sick. You will need a doctor’s excuse. Don’t worry. Use your $1500.00 deductible insurance with a $75.00 prescription deductible.

Oh, and you may be needed to work overtime, but don’t expect to get paid. You’re on salary so that is not an option. But if you come in late, your time will be docked. No, no, these aren’t complaints. These employees are grateful to have a job and become desensitized to any ill-treatment.

One day, there’s a golden carrot. Ooooo. Ahhhh! A job opening. It’s a pay increase. Employees rush to apply. They are thrilled when they receive a call for an interview. However, there’s a problem. See, the company policy is that all jobs be advertised, and each candidate interviewed objectively. So, the hopefuls get all spruced up and polish their resumes to a high gleam. But none of it will matter because the job was filled before it was advertised.

The interviews are just a sham to avoid lawsuits. Instead, it’s a twofer: a waste of the interviewees’ time and raising their hopes of bettering their lives. It’s probably a great source of amusement to the panel of interviewers. There’s even a bonus–to lower the interviewee’s self-esteem to never apply for any other position in the company.

In a roundtable discussion, this was one of the stories told by a participant. Shockingly (or not), there were several others with similar (if not the same) stories. They expressed frustration and anger. But above all, they expressed helplessness. Their work morale flushed down a toilet. But instead of being bitter–or worse, fired and needing bail money for beating a beeoch down–the focus should be on how to manage that hurt.

  1. Choose your support group carefully. Many times, coworkers aren’t friends. They will spread your business all around the office, and eventually, it will seep to a supervisor. How you’re treated at work may deteriorate. Vent only to people in your inner circle who you know you can trust.
  2. Move in silence but do not be too frightened to be a whistleblower. Many people encourage others to stand down and say nothing. This is why abuse is prolonged–because no one stands up. No one wants to be involved in fear of retaliation. So, keep notes of names, dates, times, conversations, witnesses, and facts. Say nothing of your records and secure them in a safe place. Then, when the time is right, anonymously pass copies along to the appropriate personnel in a position to help. At worst, the person who receives the info will do nothing, in which case, you learned that person is corrupt, too.
  3. Get a job at another company. Now, this may sound like the commonsense answer to be first on the list. But jobs (especially semi-decent ones) are difficult to find. Employees have to pay bills and support their families. Thus, getting a new job is often not possible, especially with a poor economy, pandemic, and few businesses.
  4. Get a hobby (preferably one that doesn’t require or envoke violence).
  5. Create your own path. Find something that you’re good at and get your side-hustle on. Open an Etsy store. Detail cars in your garage. Start a YouTube channel. Make TikToc video. Sell homebaked goods. It doesn’t matter what the venture is as long as it adverts your attention from the source of your hurt. One second is far too much time wasted on someone who causes you pain. And if this is done correctly, it may put a few extra coins in your pocket.
  6. Remain in control of the situation by remaining in control of your emotions. Emulate Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Professor Snape–endlessly deadpan and monotoned. Don’t allow hurt emotions to show to those who created the pain. While some people will apologize once they realize they have offended another, others will use it to cause further hurt. Guard your emotions until you know the type of person he/she is.
  7. Hurt people hurt people is a thing. There are no winners–only casualties and collateral damage scattered about. Hurting the person who hurt you likely will not improve the way you feel. Many years ago, I listened to the story of a man in his sixties told. He owned a home in an area that was deteriorating. He had an opportunity to purchase a new home and move his family into a new home. However, he became angry at his wife and refused to buy a new house. His neighborhood continued to deteriorate snd his old house depreciated in value. His children were unsafe as the crime increased. For the rest of his life, he regretted that decision. In his effort to hurt his wife, who incidentally didn’t care more than five minutes about getting a new house–he’d hurt himself and his children.
  8. Learn a lesson to prevent history from repeating itself. In every event, there is a teachable moment. Some life lessons are larger and more pronounced than others. But by learning them, one gains wisdom of how to avoid being hurt again.
  9. Humanize the person that caused you harm. This may be difficult and seem like too much to ask. But try to understand what caused them to behave the way they did. This isn’t to excuse their behavior. When others hurt us, we tend to blame ourselves or believe we deserved it in some way. By making the attempt to understand another person’s behavior, it makes you aware that they are the responsible party and that their actions are a reflection of them and not you.
  10. Is the actions of another person worth being hurt by? In the first example, besides aving one’s time wasted, what was lost? You would have gained knowledge of the types of snakes you’re dealing with. You will know to keep your eyes open for other opportunities that do not involve those people. Was the job one the person in the example truly wanted or does that person’s dream job really something different?
  11. Throat-punching someone can wreck a manicure, and these days, getting a manicure is shy of an act of congress.
  12. Remember that assault is punishable by imprisonment and financial restitution. If you value your freedom and money, keep your hands to yourself.
So, that’s all the tips I got? What was your favorite? How do you manage your hurt? Did I miss anything? Leave your comments below. Also, let me know if you like this kind of content and would like to see more of it.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

How to Prepare for Disasters: Part 2

Well, here’s the well awaited for conclusion to my list of how to prepare for a disaster. This list won’t prevent disasters from happening or solve every issue created; however, it’s a good start. Sometimes just having a starting point or a reminder is all one needs. As we continue this Jumanji year and get deeper into the hurricane season, perhaps this list will help someone be ready for the worst.  Please share it generously. Now without further intro, let’s jump back into this list.

  1. Fill all-important medicine (e.g., inhalers, prescription medications, prescription glasses, contact solution, oxygen tanks, epi-pens, etc.) store in a plastic bag. An acquaintance who was diabetic became trapped in a flash flood and had to be rescued by boat. On his way out, his medication fell into the rising floodwater. What wasn’t lost was contaminated by the water. He was taken to an emergency shelter. He called several clinics and a doctor he’d seen on several occasions to explain his situation. However, none were willing to call him in a prescription to a pharmacy. Later, his insulin level became unstable and had to be transported to the emergency room. Because his car was submerged in floodwater, he was transported by ambulance. At the hospital, he was given a shot of insulin to stabilize him and discharged. However, he had no way back to the shelter and remained sitting outside the hospital for a day. When he finally made it back to the shelter, his spot had been given away, and his two dogs that had been rescued with him had been surrendered to a shelter for abandonment. He had no way to get to the animal shelter. By the time the floodwaters had receded and he’d been able to get to the shelter, his dogs were nowhere to be located. Likely, they had been put down as the shelter was a kill-shelter and generally on keeps animals for three days. This situation probably could have been prevented had his medication been in a plastic bag. (This next will sound judgmental—probably because it is—but I’m going to write it anyway. Mostly, this situation could have been avoided (if not all, in part) if he had evacuated the home when he’d been told to evacuate instead of standing in his doorway taking pictures for Facebook. Refer to #3: take warnings seriously.)
  2. If possible, relocate to an area not in the path of disaster (e.g., not attempting to drive on flooded streets, staying somewhere inland instead of remaining coastal, etc.) until the disaster subsides. Take advantage of emergency shelters, hotels, or homes of friends who are not in the storm’s path.
  3. Gas up vehicles in advance. There are several reasons why this is a good idea. First, you may find that you need to evacuate an area on short notice. Second, highways may be crowded for hours if an area has to be evacuated. Several years ago, there were reports of people dying in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Atlanta during an ice blizzard. Southerners aren’t prepared for snow flurries much less a blizzard. Atlanta traffic is usually heavy; but when businesses closed and sent employees home, there was more traffic than normal. Plus, the driving conditions were hazardous, slowing traffic even more. Add to that cars breaking down. Some people ran out of gas while stuck in traffic. Others had medical conditions triggered by the cold or not having their medication with them. A third reason is that gas production can be disrupted for days. When Katrina struck, it shut down the oil refineries in The Gulf, limiting the amount of gas available. Furthermore, the gas stations didn’t have electricity to run the pumps.
  4. Get cash. I know. I know. There’s a coin shortage, and many businesses are going cashless. But guess what. Think twice about being cashless. Again, referring to the lessons Katrina taught. Town upon town had its electricity knocked out for weeks due to the hurricane. Banks were closed. ATMs were not working. Businesses that were opened could not accept debit or credit card payments. That is one reason why some grocery stores began giving away food. It was going to spoil, and many people had no way to pay for items. Cashless is fine and dandy until the lights go off.
  5. First aid kit. Some items in first aid kits do have expiration dates; therefore, it is good to periodically check to ensure all items are usable. This mostly applies to medications (e.g., aspirins, pain relievers, nausea medications, topical ointments, etc.), but may also apply to adhesive or some adhesive bandages. Yes, bandages. They may dry out and no longer stick.
  6. Bottled water. It is recommended to three gallons of water per person per day. This allows for drinking and hygiene.
  7. Non-perishable food that does not require heating or refrigeration.
  8. Stock up on diapers, formula, and other baby necessities.
  9. I previously mentioned using plastic storage bags to place medications in, but these also can be used to store photos, valuable jewelry, and/or matches should one be trapped in floodwater or rain.
  10. If preparing for evacuations, pack at least three days’ worth of clothes. Even if it’s summer, pack a light jacket or sweater. Sometimes, if you need to stay in an emergency shelter or hotel, the temperature can’t be controlled. Also, sometimes after a storm, the temperature will drastically drop or change. Packing rain gear may be wise, too.
  11. Toys for the little ones to keep them calm and entertain them during the storm.
  12. Don’t forget the fur babies. Be sure to get them food and water. And please don’t leave them chained outside in the weather. Take them to a safe, dry place.
  13. Adult activities. No, not that kind of adult activities. Well, maybe but I meant more along the lines of books, cards, puzzles, board games, etc. Often, when disasters happen, people are unable to go places due to the destruction and closures of businesses. If at home, especially with no electricity, activities will be needed to past the time.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. For more information view sites such as the America Red Cross, National Weather Service, OSHA, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as local news stations.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.

 

Beauty Hacks Everyone Probably Should Know but May Not

I should preamble this post with, “I was today years old…” I know I can’t be the only person to have fallen for some of these stunts and not known it. So, I want to begin with a short storytime.

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there existed these glossy paper pages of images bound together called a magazine. These magazines were filled with nothing but ultra-thin, beautiful flawless people. Page after page there was nothing but glamour. And you, too, could look like these gorgeous individuals and have all the amazing gadgets they did if you only bought the product in their hands or on their body.

Yeah. Okay. Right? Who’s feeling me?

Also, back in this time far far away, there wasn’t really internet. The malls were popping, and that is where you brought your A-game of fashion and coolness. (A sporty car helped, too, but that’s another story.) While spending endless hours walking the malls until all the moose in your hair went limp and losing all your quarters at the arcade, you went home(or a sleepover) to music videos on a late-night program, eat junk food, talk on a party-line, and play silly made up games (along with Truth or Dare).

Still with me?

One of the games I used to play involved finding a fashion ad that I liked and replicating everything in it. That was especially the thing to do to come up with that perfect first day of school outfit. But I rarely won this game, and it took me years to figure out some of the reasons I failed so miserably. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only loser. Plenty of people I knew fell in the traps, too, and some are still caught there. So, here are, in no particular order, some of the beauty hacks you should know but may not.

  1. Photoshop & Filters. Digitally airbrushing and altering images is nothing new. However, sometimes, it is easy to forget this is a common practice when viewing an image. We accept what we see as being the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it’s actually one humongous lie. Even the most stunning people do not look like most of their social media or print images. Trying to obtain that level of perfection is pointless.
  2. Products listed are not always the only products used. One example that comes to mind is eyeshadow primer. This is a product I used to never use nor did anyone I knew. Heaven forbid if we predated its invention. When I discovered this little product, it was a game-changer. Not only did it make the eyeshadow last longer, the right primer made the pigments pop. Yes, the supermodels in the magazines were wearing palette XYZ, but beneath it was a primer that brought all those eyeshadows to life. Lipsticks were often paired with liners and glosses that weren’t mentioned. Sometimes, shadows from other palettes were used in conjunction with the shadows shown and listed.
  3. The hair is often changed in before and after beauty photos to add a more dramatic effect/transformation.
  4. Lighting means everything. While everyone looks good in the dark, some people increase their level of hotness in the right light. Many influencers and internet bloggers use ring lights and high-definition cameras.
  5. Lighting in stores makes products look different. When shopping, if possible, stand by a window in the store to get a better idea of how the product will look in natural light. If that’s not an option, ask for a small sample. With the Rona still urinating on everyone’s dance party, most in-store testers have been removed. (Hence, shade matching with a beauty influencer is handy.)
  6. Dozens of photos are taken usually to get that one perfect shot.
  7. A clever photographer can make an ordinary background look like spectacular scenery.
  8. Knowing camera angles and body positioning significantly can change a person’s appearance.
  9. Drinking water before taking photos gives the skin a healthier and more youthful look.
  10. Working out/ exercising prior to a photo shoot makes the muscles look more defined in photographs.
  11. You don’t need all of the products they are attempting to sell you.
    • Large brush sets are usually a waste of money. Brushes should be chosen based on eye shape/size and face angles. Someone with small eyes or limited lid space may need smaller brushes to get into their crease and for blending.
      • People tend to have favorites. Some brushes a person will reach for more than others.
      • Brushes are tools, and quality is important. Note: quality does not equate cost. A less expensive/affordable brush may be of very good quality. Likewise, an expensive brush may be of poor quality.
      • Syntenic hair and natural hair brushes apply products differently. This is something I did not know. I had an eyeshadow palette that came with a brush included. I didn’t use the palette much because the shadows didn’t have pigment and wouldn’t blend well…or so I thought. I used a different brushes without thinking and OMG. It applied way too much product on my face because I’d loaded it up to get a payout, not realizing the brush I’d been using in the past had been the issue. Some types of brushes are better for liquid or cream products than others.
      • Some “designer” brushes are repackaging of stock brushes that can be purchased much cheaper online.
    • Large eye shadow palettes are not always a bargain.
      • Unless a person is a professional MUA or someone who has a profession outside of typical corporate America, many shades in large palettes won’t be used. People will require less colorful, everyday looks.
      • Also, large palettes may contain many shades that just do not work with your skin tone.
      • Purchasing single shadows to create your own palette may be more economical and less wasteful.
      • Chances are you have the same shade in a different palette. When a company comes out with a new palette it may have an exciting color story. However, upon close, one may discover that the colors they are drawn to the most are the same colors in palettes they already own but with a different layout or not altogether. Now, if a person travels a great deal, this may work well, as it possibly could reduce the amount of makeup packed.
  12. Cosmetics have an expiration date. While some it’s probably not that bad to use past the date, mascara, and other eye products that go on the lashes or onto the waterline should be thrown out if expired.
  13. Dupes work. Sometimes, what a person is paying for is not the quality of a product but the name itself. There are plenty of generic (not counterfeit—that’s another situation entirely) products that work just as well (or better) than the name brand or designer ones.
  14. Multiple techniques that have been listed previously are used on a single photograph to achieve the final, polished results.
  15. This is well known but may not be given much consideration. Beauty influencers are frequently paid or sponsored to review products. Therefore, their opinion may not be unbiased. Additionally, many times they have received the product in PR. This means they are not of out of pocket any money. Given these circumstances, it stands to reason that they would have extensive makeup collections. The average person does not need to own that much product.
  16. What looks good on a supermodel may not look good on you, and it will have nothing to do with lighting or photoshop. Each person is unique. A product that works for one person may cause an allergic reaction in another. Facial features and body types will affect how something looks. One influencer that I use as a shade match has oily skin. I don’t. When I tried using the essential facial oils she did, it ended in disaster. My makeup slid all over my face, and my pores looked like craters. Furthermore, she had a different face shape. Some of the techniques she used exaggerated features I wanted to minimize or narrowed features I wanted wide. At the end of the day, I was never going to look like her.
  17. Claims of what makeup can or cannot do are frequently exaggerated. Concealers crease. Foundation oxidizes. Lipstick transfers. Some products are better at controlling some of the claims than others. Usually, it requires a combination of products to achieve maximum results.
  18. And speaking of, products react differently with other products. I have a foundation that looks streaky when used over a particular primer. I have a setting powder that when I use over a certain foundation, my nose becomes shiny during the middle of the day…mind you, I don’t have oily skin. But it’s something about this combo that yields this result.
  19. There are no right and wrongs to makeup application. Makeup is about self-expression. You do you, boo.

Were you aware of all these beauty hacks? What hacks do you know that weren’t listed here? Let me know in the comments. I’m interested in your opinion. Also, if there is a topic that you would like for me to address, let me know.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

IG GC AN

Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

2777b4e8-45db-46a1-b4ac-257a218ff424

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance.