yesterday i headed up
the coast, my body
suspended in air.
it was the trick
of a Lycoming engine
that kept me up there.
and as i went north,
each mile gone by,
i wondered if you
were in the sky
but i don’t know:
DAY 14 OF THE SEPTEMBER POETRY SERIES.
Today’s poem is one written while falling asleep. What? Yes. You read this correctly. Today has been a very long day, composed of four hours of class, a three-hour flight, and a constant hungry stomach whining at me. So before I pass out for twelve hours, I wrote this little poem for Day 14.
Truth be told, I’m not in the mood to analyze right now, so I’m not going to. But I just want to say thank you guys as always for going on this journey with me, and I apologize if my material has been lackluster as of late. If anything, this series is teaching me that discipline is well-intentioned, but it does not always bring positive results.
Hopefully there will be something to analyze tomorrow!
i think of you when
the clouds cry drops
of tears like my own,
each one a reminder
that you left, that you’re gone.
i think of you when
the sun bleeds me dry,
the rays a cosmic force
bent on burning my
cells to iron smithereens.
i think of you when
the wind picks up speed
and each gale weathers
my wet, burnt skin
with your memory.
i think of you often,
every thought like a
teardrop from the sky.
do you think of me,
or have i passed you by?
With most poems I prefer to write some explanatory notes on why I chose my subject matter and whatnot. With this poem, I think I’d like to keep the backstory personal, and let you take away what you’d like from it.
Today we are diving into the heart… So be prepared to do some soul searching.
What exactly is a heart-to-heart, you may ask? According to the internet, it is a “candid, intimate, personal conversation.” If you ask me, it’s a chance for you to rip open your emotions with another person who cares for you. It’s also the opportunity for another person to reveal his or her own heart to you.
While some will consider this post to be cringeworthy or over the top, I’m certain some of you will read this and say to yourself, “Why haven’t I been doing this sooner?” Trust me, I was once critical of the infamous heart-to-heart. Not anymore!
So, let’s get into the heart of the matter, and go over three important takeaways of why you should have heart-to-hearts.
1. PROVIDES EMOTIONAL EXHALE
Humans are complex, emotional creatures. While some people act as if they have no emotions at all, everyone feels something deep in his or her core. These feelings translate into words like happiness, sadness, anger, etc., but when it comes down to it, the emotions we experience are sometimes impossible to put into words.
Emotions have never come super easy to me. As an INFP personality type, I am well aware of absorbing the emotions of others into my gut. When my family and friends hit a bump in the road, I am a sounding board. While I love to listen and help others as much as I can, my own emotional state is a little more reserved than most. While I can sympathize and empathize with others for ages, my own heart is kept hidden away. When people want to share their feelings in group settings, I’m typically uncomfortable, knowing that there is an expectation that I should open up too. But here’s the thing: I’m not going to open up to anyone unless I truly trust his or her motivations, even if I feel suffocated by the emotion inside my own head.
Something changed about two years ago, on one of my first trips in South America. At this point in time, I was adjusted to life abroad, and I had already formulated some of my greatest friendships. It was at this moment in time that my first true heart-to-heart occurred on an overnight bus trip from Buenos Aires to Córdoba. My best friend, Maggie Givenchy, and I were curled up in the very back of the dark bus, and we were crabbing about like normal. (We love to push each other’s buttons.) We were two twenty-year-olds abroad in a foreign country, and we had a lot to say to each other. Maggie was pursuing a relationship, and I was thinking about pursuing one myself (hahahahahahaha, thank goodness that did not happen). As a result, we were chatterboxes, and we both needed to get some things off our chests.
While Maggie’s memory of this moment may be drastically different than mine (my memory tends to fail me a lot), I will never forget the moment we looked at each other and agreed that we needed to start having heart-to-hearts more often. Maggie was giddy with excitement over her new relationship, and I needed clarity on a chico I was interested in. While the conversation began as an examination of our romantic statuses, it evolved into something else entirely: How were we enjoying life in a new country? Would we have done things differently if we could go back?
But the truth is: If we had kept these feelings and thoughts to ourselves, we would have lost out on being honest with ourselves–and to each other.
Emotional exhale is necessary for every human. We are all pumped with feelings of rage and joy and terror and anxiety, and true friends will want to know your true feelings. When we boil and simmer in our emotions, we tend to end up losing it in the end, and we can hurt the people we love most during these moments of emotional jeopardy. This is a fine line to walk on: We must be willing to open up, but only at the pace our souls desire.
2. STRENGTHENS RELATIONSHIPS
Maggie Givenchy and I are “redonk” individuals. (Redonk is a word I use to describe ridiculous behavior.) While we implemented our usage of “heart-to-hearts” extensively while abroad, we expanded upon this idea when we became roommates our junior year of college. Since we were stuck together every night, we wouldn’t go to bed until we had a Big Poppa Heart-to-Heart, also known as the Late Night Chat (LNC).
At this point, you’re probably like: Who is this girl? Well, hear me out.
At first LNCs/heart-to-hearts may be uncomfortable and weird, but I’m telling you, they will change your life. You’re probably not going to have some grand revelation that tells you to up and move to Jakarta for missions work through a heart-to-heart, but you may just. Talking things through is a huge aspect of self-improvement, but it is also the way in which our relationships grow.
Maggie and I were best friends before our LNCs; however, our friendship strengthened through our nightly conversations. There’s something about lying in the dark, telling your best friend the things on your heart, and listening to her advice (and vice versa). This is a chance for you to rehash your day, the things that are weighing you down, and the things that are lifting you up.
While I have always enjoyed falling asleep (it has always been one of my favorite parts of the day hehe), I always look forward to an LNC with Miss Givenchy. I know that I’m going to hear what’s really going on in her world, and not just the little things either.
You can try this too, and I promise it will change your perspective. It will challenge your perspective too, because you will question things, and sometimes you’re not going to get the answers you want. But that’s the point of diving into your psyche, and into the psyche of someone who means the world to you.
3. HONEST, OPEN COMMUNICATION IS MADE CLEAR
So, if the previous two points didn’t convince you, I’m going to suggest that this point will. Humans rely on relationships. While some individuals are wired to have a hundred friendships, others rely on a few deeply personal relationships. (While I would love to write more on this topic, we’re not going down that rabbit hole today.) But what is the common theme here, the string that ties everything together?
We need contact with others.
It is no secret that most communication is through the non-verbals (some experts say it is 93% of communication, actually, which is crazy). However, a heart-to-heart compiles both nonverbal and verbal cues. Emotion seeps through the skin, and it also plays a part in tone and word choice. A heart-to-heart requires honesty, and when we are honest with others, we’re actually being honest with ourselves too.
While heart-to-hearts are crucial to understand the friends who need our help, it is also a method of talking to ourselves. If you’re like me and harbor your emotions in the bay of your heart, you don’t open up much to yourself. You keep those feelings locked tight, even if you think about things all the time. But just because you’re thinking about things doesn’t really mean you’re thinking things through.
When I started having heart-to-hearts, I realized what I really wanted. I began to understand why I was acting certain ways and how I should proceed with caution in what I was doing. Nobody likes being in the spotlight unprepared–and especially not when you’re the one putting yourself in that position.
SO WHY HAVE HEART-TO-HEARTS?
When we open our hearts, we are at our rawest point. When we expose ourselves for who we really are, we are at our most vulnerable, and we learn the truth behind our actions, thoughts, and motives. In order to be happy, in order to figure things out, we must be willing to admit our shortcomings. It’s difficult, but it’s necessary, and a real friend will listen, give you advice, and share their situations with you.
However, it is crucial to speak like this when you are confused, hurt, or anxious. You may believe you do not have a person with whom you can talk, but I’m sure there is someone in your life who is willing to listen. I bet you that this person wants to talk to someone too, and this can be an opportunity to tighten your bond in the process.
Here is another consideration for you: You never really know what someone is going through until you ask them how they’re doing. Sometimes this person will say, “Oh, I’m fine; nothing’s going on.” But you may be surprised when the person looks you in the eye, and you’re taken aback, because you’re looking into the soul of a broken human being. This may not happen often, but when it does, you have to be ready to listen. You have to be willing to help another person. And if you don’t, shame on you.
We know when people care for us. They ask us questions, and want to get to know us better; they surprise us with little gifts, or words of affirmation; they smile at us, and our hearts about burst, because we know there is much more than meets the eye.
Do not be afraid to reach out. You never know when you’re making a difference–and you sure don’t know when you’re about to change the course of someone’s life forever.
THANK YOU, my wonderful readers. As always, I look forward to hearing from you. ❤
FOR EONS NOW the First Baptist Church of Colonia, Mississippi, had been the social hub of the entire county.
On Sundays every business shut down, except the bookstore run by the only Jewish man within fifty miles. Church was expected, not just a friendly tip. It was so expected that even the morally ambiguous put on their shiny shoes and zipped on over to their chosen place of worship—and there were plenty to choose from.
But nothing was more distinct than the First Baptist Church. Most churches within the area had long since given up their status as being first in their particular denomination: First Presbyterian had become Hope Pres, and First Lutheran, with its ten congregants, had become Friendship Lutheran. First Methodist, First Baptist’s loyal enemy, had stayed the same to spite those said Baptists, and the Church of Christ up and moved to the country, needing a respite from Colonia’s self-righteous residents.
Now it was true that most Southerners were, aptly so, Southern Baptist. It was a tradition with a rigorous history, and though its membership had been on the steady slope downward for a while now, Colonia’s First Baptist Church was as strong as ever. Nearly four hundred churchgoers flocked to the pulpit at ten-thirty on Sunday mornings, donning suits and dresses and the occasional skirt or slacks. Some women wore lace hats that plumed like peacock feathers, while others covered dainty hands with satin gloves. Everyone clutched weathered Bibles, including the youngsters who sprinted across the aisles with annoyed brothers and sisters trying to catch up.
Miss Sue, a religious attendee at First Baptist since the 1940s, was no stranger to the scene. Miss Sue, who was the opposite of a stickler, felt her panty hose rip right down the middle of her age-spotted leg as her great-grandchild, Emma Ray, bounced into Deacon Todd, who was a righteous son of a gun.
“What in…” shouted Deacon Todd, who held a stack of pamphlets in his leathered hands.
“Hiya!” shouted Emma Ray as Miss Sue caught up.
“Where is her mother?” snapped Deacon Todd, but when he caught a wicked glance from Miss Sue, he readjusted his tie.
“I’m a good enough substitute, don’t you think?” replied Miss Sue, shaking her head. “I know you wouldn’t have a clue, Todd Appleby.”
“A clue as to what, Sue Richards?” he growled, tossing a bulletin to an unsuspecting guest.
“How to live a little, and remember that children are children. Now, you come here, little miss!”
Emma Ray snaked her way out of her grandmother’s arms once more and dived into the sanctuary, her church shoes somehow screeching against the emerald green carpets that had been laid in the ’70s, back when Emma Ray’s mother was her size. The little girl was a tornado as she burst through throngs of gossips and guests and terrified people in general. Everyone had always thought there was possibly a curse in the Richards family line, because none of those Richards women could calm down.
“Emma Ray!” screamed Miss Sue, almost tripping over her nemesis in the process.
The nemesis, Rita Scarborough, licked her lips and rolled her eyes. She lifted a red-painted fingernail into the air and shook it back and forth as she chatted with her gaggle of best friends, all of whom had been born, survived, and would die in Colonia, Mississippi.
“Sue Richards,” she muttered.
“Emma Ray,” said of the friends, in a nasally accent, “is such a mess in comparison to your little Margaret Ann.”
Just at that moment Margaret Ann appeared, docile and doe-like in her mother’s arms. Rita took her granddaughter, kissing both china doll cheeks, while Emma Ray or Miss Sue (it was hard to tell) shrieked across the aisle.
“Grandma,” said Margaret Ann, pushing back a few perfect curls from her face, “Grandpa was looking for you.”
“Was he now?” asked Rita Scarborough. She knew it probably wasn’t true. Her husband of nearly forty years was always somewhere or the other, collecting even juicier news than she could. It was what had attracted them to each other in the first place, if you didn’t count the Ole Miss degree, fancy diamond ring, and the fact that they’d been matched since birth, when their families prayed over them at the baby dedication.
And, in reality, Wesley Scarborough was not looking for his wife. He stood beside Deacon Todd, greeting guests and regular attenders alike, learning as much as he could about anybody and everybody. Todd passed out the papers, and Wesley passed out the Southern hospitality.
At some point, as the sun rose higher in the sky on this particular Sunday morning, Wesley grew a little tired, because he needed a doughnut or a bagel or anything with caloric intake. Since it was almost show time, the crowd had withered in the lobby. Deacon Todd ran out of bulletins and grouched off like an elderly crab, leaving Wesley alone and at peace, because he enjoyed his solitude too, even in the midst of a place as spiritual as this.
But then, out of nowhere, the front doors opened, and there was a young woman he had never seen before. She was so young, he noted, that his wife would either take her under her wing or scoff at her for the rest of time, and so he estimated her age to be twenty-four. She wore an acceptable dress, her curly hair bouncing down her back, and she clutched a Bible with nervous hands. He knew they were nervous hands because he’d been in those shoes, long, long ago, when he also visited First Baptist Colonia after a long bout of disbelief and anger and grit and grime.
“Welcome, young lady!” he said, extending a hand.
“Am I late?” she asked, her eyes huge and green. “I wasn’t sure if… I don’t know. My neighbor invited me, and…”
“You’re all right,” said Wesley, wondering where this creature had beamed in from. “What’s your name, dear? I’m Wesley Scarborough.”
“Olivia Scott,” she said, the Bible a barrier between them.
“It’s nice to meet you, Olivia. Who’s your neighbor?”
Wesley smiled to himself. “Lisa Richards, one of the most active members in this congregation! I swear—well, I suppose I shouldn’t swear, on account that we are Christian people, Miss Olivia—but half of this congregation belongs to the Richards family!”
“I’d believe it. There’s always something going on at that house.”
“Here, let’s see if we can see her. You’re just in time, dear. No worries if you’re late, either. We’re a talkative congregation.”
They walked to the edge of the sanctuary, where all four hundred congregants chattered and buzzed around like the busy bees they were. Wesley caught a glimpse of Deacon Todd throwing Emma Ray onto his shoulders, while Miss Sue chased him down. He then saw his wife and his daughter and the grandkids and smirked. There were the Pipers, debating politics, no doubt; and Mr. Blake Sampson, who’d never taken a wife, and Reece Jetterby, the richest man in the county, and Oscar Thomas, the poorest man in the county. But where in the world was Lisa Richards?
“It’s okay if you can’t find her,” said mild-mannered Olivia Scott, “because I can find her after the service. I just promised her I’d come, and so here I am.”
“Well, you’re more than welcome to sit with my family and me if you’d like, or I can point you in the direction of the young people’s section, or…”
“Hi, Wesley,” said a strong voice behind them, and Wesley twisted around to face the young pastor, Luke Sweeting, who’d been in town for three years but felt like a forever presence in the church home. Luke was twenty-eight, a Georgia man who’d been educated up North and came home with a desire to preach. He’d come to Colonia on a whim. But as everyone believed in Colonia, there was more to it than just a whim. Things always worked out according to God’s miraculous plan, and they had hope that things always would be that way.
“Pastor Luke!” shouted Wesley, grabbing the man’s hand, pulling him in for a hug. When they drew apart, Wesley began with, “This is our dear guest, Miss Olivia Scott.”
Olivia blushed, and Wesley found this interesting.
“Very nice to meet you, Olivia,” said Luke, shaking her hand. “Welcome to our church. I know it can be overwhelming, but I hope you enjoy your time here, and that you feel God’s presence in the meantime.”
“Thank you,” she said, and Luke excused himself, heading off to the worshippers, a shepherd collecting his flock.
“That’s the pastor,” said Wesley again, and then he nodded. “Well, I’m going to have to insist you sit with my family, Olivia Scott.”
This poor girl, thought Wesley to himself. At least she’d have a story to tell.
My beautiful readers! Thank you so much for reading this far. I hope you all are doing spectacular!
As you guys know, I have challenged myself to write three books this summer, one of them being this short but sweet romance, Church Boy. When it is finished, it will clock in around 50,000 words and be self-published through my go-to website, Smashwords, which you can find here: Link to my books!
Church Boy is a Southern, Christian romantic comedy. Some of you will probably cringe right there (and I absolutely feel you). However, I conceived this story a few years ago, and it felt like the time to crank it out before I totally lost the energy to write it.
This book pairs two unlikely leads: Luke Sweeting is a kind Southern Baptist pastor, whereas Olivia Scott is a struggling law student who is new to town. The two meet at Luke’s church in Colonia, Mississippi, where things do not exactly go according to plan…
Therefore, I wanted to give you guys a little teaser before the book comes out. Right now I am hoping to get it out there by June 1, but it may be pushed back to June 15. We will see, we will see. 😉
Okay, I have to go study for now, but expect more blog posts soon. Thank you all for reading!
It’s that time again… A new book is ready to be published!
As some of you guys know, I spent my summer writing as fast and furiously as I could. I completed five novels within four months, and it was some of the best creativity I’ve had in a while, though it was quite a lot. Three of these books were written as The Flores Sisters Trilogy, and The Blind Date is the final chapter.
These books were so much fun to write, and The Blind Date was probably the most fun of them all. Personally, I think it is the best one of the series, especially since it is not set up like a traditional love story. (If you read it, you will find out why!)
Here is a little synopsis for you:
Tessa Flores is a bubbly, outgoing librarian who is set up on a blind date with the awkward but kind Dev Virani, a computer programmer. As the two are introduced and learn they have more in common than they thought, the mysterious Oscar Owens poses that they take part in an elaborate treasure hunt that sends them to some of Memphis’s most interesting haunts: salsa clubs, antiques malls, the Mississippi River… All while learning that love is the most rewarding treasure of all.
Thank you guys, as always, for your support during this journey. I promise I have more books coming soon, but it will be a little while before the next one is out. (And, *cough cough*, it will not be a romance book.)
We want our heroes to reflect our best qualities, and our villains our worst.
Hello, my friendly readers!
Today I have decided to do a post relating to writing, since I really haven’t done one in a while. While I love sharing aspects of my life with you all, I think it is important to remember the focus of this blog, which is my passion for writing.
Therefore, I thought it would be a little fun to dig into some of my favorite parts of being a writer.
1. A TROPICAL LITTLE GETAWAY…
The thing about writing is that it can be your cheapest vacation possible. If I have the desperate inkling to hike a Romanian cliff, then I can look up a picture online, do a little investigating into the culture and area of the world, and bam, write a story about it–all without spending the thousands of dollars to actually get there.
Writing is a whole lot like this simple example. You want a magical, one-of-a-kind bachelor to fall in love with a spastic heroine? Write it up. Sick of gritty, trashy movies Hollywood produces? Write up your own script. Show who you are, find what you’re about, and listen to what you want to see in the world.
A crucial aspect of this field is that you are, and maybe unintentionally, fleshing out part of your soul for the world to read: Your hopes, your dreams, your goals. Even if you’re writing a cheesy romance, there’s still something deeply personal about the work in relation to its writer.
This past summer, I wanted a tropical vacation. I wanted to go to a beachy paradise, soak in the sun, and dip my toes into warm Caribbean water. Since I’m a jobless college student, there was no way I could afford to hop on a plane to George Town… So I wrote about it instead. I watched informational videos, read tourist reviews, and wrote part of a book set there.
As some of you know by now, I’m all for a good deal, and writing’s the best form of travel.
2. WHAT IS REALITY? WHAT IS FICTION?
A writer is lying if he or she says that everything he or she writes is fiction. This is a basic premise to my belief that, for the most part, writers can be selfish when it comes to characters. We want our heroes to reflect our best qualities, and our villains to reflect our worst.
It’s a psychological game, and it’s always fun to go back and read old material for comparison’s sake. It can be painfully embarrassing too, because writing really does tear back the skin and reveal the bones of who you are.
Let’s do something a little off-kilter and look back at two of my past principal characters.
The heroine of my latest novel, By the Skin of My Teeth, Abigail Ross is who I want to be. She’s a travel writer with six continents under her belt, a determined realist, and a seasoned individualist. She cares for others, but she’s also watching out for what others can do to her.
While Abigail has been one of my favorite characters to write thus far, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t write her without aspects of myself in mind. This is a very selfish thought process, but I like being honest with you as my reader. She also possesses similar flaws that I do, including her self-centered worldview, trusting personality, and fear of opening up to others.
Miranda is the middle child and protagonist of my latest release, The Wedding Party. An organized, Type A personal assistant to a celebrity, Miranda is a successful woman who puts her energy into others. She is idealistic but grounded, speaks her mind and follows her plans, and determines her own fate.
When I wrote the The Flores Sisters Trilogy, I specifically wanted to write one of the sisters with a personality unlike mine. Miranda is very thorough, whereas I’m go with the flow. She’s put together and by the book, whereas I write the book. 😉 That being said, Miranda still possesses certain characteristics that mirror mine: She is afraid of being alone, she wants to protect her loved ones, etc.
3. WATCH THOSE SURROUNDINGS
People watching is an actual hobby, and I know a lot of folks love to do it. It’s always fun to sit down, throw your phone at a wall (maybe not this part), and lose yourself in your surroundings. You can go on a hike through the Santa Monica Mountains or sit in a library, and there’s enough material for fifty books in each locale.
Though I typically find my characters as I’m day dreaming, there have been moments where I’m people watching, and I see someone who has a sort of swagger that piques my interest. For example, I was in a Buenos Aires subway station when I saw a young woman with bright pink hair rush past me. For whatever reason, I was drawn to her spark, and I realized that just by seeing this real, living person, I could write a character based on the five seconds I’d seen her float by.
Another example relates to physical locations. Places can have just as much power as people. When I left college for California, I started writing about my home region, the American South. What once had only bored me and left me brittle was actually my favorite place to write about. Funny, right?
Your surroundings affect your writing. If you write in a dark closet, your thoughts will probably be a little darker than sprawling out on a beach towel in Florida.
I just love the ability to experience a place, and then write about it, so that it will stay with me eternally. And the same thing about characters, however weird that may sound.
For some of you, there was a bug that bit you, left its DNA in your cells. You know what I’m talking about: Writing is your passion.
And when something’s your passion, everything else is a bonus. Even if I couldn’t make up a vacation to the Cayman Islands, then whatever. I’d find whatever joy in another story that rooted itself in my brain.
This world has endless opportunity, endless potential. You can go out there and learn to fly; you can go out there and teach English or Swahili or Russian; you can go out there and do what you want. At least hopefully. And if you have the chance to do what you love, what is there to lose?
Well, I feel like I’m publishing books left and right. Today I am announcing the release of my newest libro, Mystic Mississippi, that is a swoon-worthy romance set in, you guessed it, Mississippi.
Since I’m in Argentina, I’m especially missing my good Southern roots, and I felt it was time to write a romance novel set back home. This book isn’t my magnum opus, but it was fun to write, and it’s probably a little cheesy at parts, but I think it serves its purpose.
Q & A over the book
Has your time abroad had any influence on your writing?
For sure. Being abroad has made me appreciate my home country (the USA) much more. I have also taken for granted having my family near me, and so I am quite excited to be reunited with them.
In Mystic Mississippi the main character has a strong bond with her mother, and I think that is highly representative of the fact that I miss my own mom. Family is hugely important to me.
Last year, after my freshman year of college, I wrote my favorite novel to-date, a magical realism that I hope to someday publish publish, not self-publish. Therefore, my best writing comes from being away, from exploring new areas and new ideals, but remembering who I am along the way.
Is there a guy who has inspired this romance?
While there is no one significant in my life right now, the main character of Cameron is based on someone I do know… Not to be too cryptic, but…
As for Clara, the book’s heroine, she is not based on me. While we have similarities, Clara is outspoken, sarcastic, and fiery. Therefore, I wanted to write a character who was unlike me, and I think Clara qualifies!
What are you working on next?
I am still working on a magical realism I wrote over my Christmas break. I hope to be done with it in the next few weeks, but I’m not sure if I will self-publish that one just quite yet. It is set in Tennessee and revolves around a family who moves into a (sort of!) haunted house.
As you guys know by now, I write for you, and I’m really happy to share this latest book with you guys. I hope you enjoy it, but I’m probably going to shy away from romance for a little while.