Tuesday, December 18, 2018

It's Not Your Fault

I have a confession to make - I'm a bit addicted to podcasts. I listen to them when I'm cleaning, cooking, when I'm driving. I love hearing people drop pearls of wisdom into my lap. I love gleaning stuff from the experiences of others.

Today, I stumbled upon a podcast that said: It's Not Your Fault if Your Partner Has an Affair.

Although I knew the podcast was mostly geared toward those who were still in relationship, I thought I could get some good stuff out of this one. And I certainly did! Because those thoughts get to everyone who has been through the devastating pain of infidelity. I didn't entertain them long after the discovery, thankfully, but they did affect me, and there are still twinges that come out from time to time. Like today. When I have a small fight / disagreement with one of my kids, a little voice whispers in my ear - see, that's why your husband left you because you're selfish and over-sensitive. No one really wants to be with someone like that.

But then I got to thinking. When my kids do something that upsets me, I still love them. Fiercely. Love does not abandon or betray a person just because they didn't meet some supposed need or they upset you or you don't have a perfect relationship. No one has a perfect relationship.

I didn't only blame myself for the affair, but my ex spent quite a bit of time listing his disturbing bullet-point list of all the things I'd done wrong. Strange, before he'd met her, he'd never ever once mentioned a single one of those to me, nor had he ever said he was unhappy or wanted to go for counselling. So, I smell a rat here. It looks like he was deflecting the blame from himself. I'm not going to take that into my soul. I'm not going to hear all those soul-destroying words he threw at me.

Anyway, back to the truth that I want to relay to anyone who may need it:

1. No matter what's wrong with a relationship, having an affair is a moral choice and it's not the way to heal a relationship, nor even the right way to get out of a relationship if you want to leave. Yes, if the relationship is not going well, usually two people are responsible (not in a shaming way, but they could probably do with some pointers and counselling on how to improve the dynamic). Just because two people are responsible for maintaining a healthy relationship, does not mean having an affair is justified. Choosing to have an affair is a morally irresponsible and deeply violent and selfish act. There are so many other ways to deal with relationship problems.

2. Because the one who had an affair chose that way, the other partner in the relationship is NEVER to blame for the affair. They are hurting and should never, ever be blamed for it. That only makes the hurt much worse. It's like whipping a wounded dog. Never allow anyone to tell you that it's your fault. And don't go inward and try to find ways that you could have done things better, blaming yourself while you're at it - that's just a way of trying to control the situation because you're afraid of it happening again. (Nothing wrong with learning from the broken relationship though.) Common phrases like, "did you make him happy?" or "did you meet all his needs?" or "did you put your marriage first" are all painfully damaging and destructive. I've had those thoughts. I've even had some people ask me such things. Yes, I wasn't perfect. No one is. But that's not the point at all. Think of it this way: What if your partner was bedridden or paralysed due to illness and couldn't cook your food or give you sex, or meet whatever "needs" you have? Would it be okay to have an affair then? No! Unfortunately, some religious people also teach that our bodies don't belong to ourselves but our partners. What balderdash. This is very damaging stuff and can open people up to abuse in relationships. Your body is yours and yours alone.

Oracle Card made by Me - Copyright (c) K. Bosman
3. People who have strong self-esteem are more likely to heal quicker from the pain of infidelity. Those who believe that they are still worthy and lovable, despite what their partner or ex-partner did, are able to heal faster and better from the pain. I think I'm going to stick to the truth that I am enough. Yes, I'm enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH TOO! You have always been and will always be enough. Your worth can never be taken from you. By being human, you possess infinite worth and beauty. We all have flaws. That's what makes us human. No one is able to be the perfect partner or parent, all the time. We have a shadow self. But the beautiful thing is that shadow self is often our biggest teacher. In some religions, we are often told that those shadow parts of us make us shameful and horrible and displeasing to the divine. We are told to get rid of them. Thing is, we will never be able to get rid of them in this lifetime. We will always have things to work on, ways to improve, ways to become more loving. Yes, we do want to become more loving and more at peace. But, instead of seeing that shadow part of ourselves as icky and shameful and something to either suppress or to cut out, let's love ourselves despite that shadow-ness. Let's see that shadow as a gift to teach us many beautiful lessons. As soon as we start to love and accept ourselves as flawed, suddenly that feeling of having to be perfect all the time fades away. Instead we revel in our self-love and joy. Judgement drops its ugly barbs off our souls. And the less we judge ourselves, the more we can learn to love and no longer judge others. And the more loving we become. Kind of full circle, right?

(Thank you to Divorce Source Radio and David of closeconnections.ca - who shared the podcast.)

Monday, November 26, 2018

That Calm Inner Centre

The last few weeks have been pretty challenging for me in several areas, but mostly in the area of finances and health.

I have decided to not going into the gory details of what I went through - have since taken it off the blog. But here are the messages I've learned through the hard times:

Several messages kept popping up in different places - the message of being calm, of tapping into my calm, inner centre. You see, we all have this calmness deep inside of us. Our deep inner being is pure serenity. We just have all these external things that buffet us in this world - things around us to upset us, things going on in our bodies and emotional bodies. But those are all external things. The very core of us is always safe. And at peace.

I sometimes like to listen to NDEs (near-death experiences). I love hearing the messages / truths that the people learn from the other side. Everyone says that they feel the most incredible peace and love once they die. That's because our soul is pure love and pure peace.

We just need to tap into our higher self - our true soul. So, when the storm rages around us, we can choose to be calm. Yes, we may not feel totally calm because we are human and we get emotions. We get physical sensations. This world hurts and harms us sometimes. But we can be calmer, we can have an inner knowing that everything is going to be okay, that we are okay, and that we are growing through everything we go through.

The past few weeks I've chosen to look at the lack of editing jobs as a blessing instead of a bad thing. It's not easy for me. But I've been more relaxed, I've had time to write, and I've managed to write 11K words in my new novel / novella - not too sure how long it's going to be yet. I've learned to appreciate the little things in life.

So, my challenge for myself for 2019 is balance. I've allowed my need to work, work, work take me out of balance. I really needed this break as stressful as it was. I am working on balancing my diet and working on my fitness. I really need to get my health into gear. I've needed to work very hard the last few years to get my editing business up and running, but now it's time to bring my life back into balance. I've had my wake-up call.

But the biggest lesson I've learned the last few weeks is to sink into my inner being, that calmness I have inside me. To find peace in the midst of the storm. And to trust. To be guided by my intuition every step of the way. Not always easy, but always leading us back to peace.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Free Book on Wattpad

Hi, I hope you are all well on this beautiful day!

So, I've taken one of my old romances I wrote years ago, which was contracted by Clean Reads, and I've changed things up a bit. I received some negative reviews on the book, specially with regards to my heroine. At the time they hurt, but they also got me thinking on how I can improve the book. So, I've fixed her up and made her a much nicer person. I've smoothed out the romance and just plain, old made the book better. It is a bit shorter though.

Anyway, I've decided to put it up as a free read on Wattpad for my readers to enjoy. The first chapter is now up!

Beautiful Hearts

Lisa is petrified, but can't resist saying yes to her boss, Dan Loriet, the handsome but fierce Editor in Chief at Prominence Magazine. He wants her to pose as his fiancee for a New Years' bash at his family's. In return, she may be able to get the promotion she's dreamed of. Turns out Dan's family is the family she's always dreamed of being a part of, and he's not so bad himself, when she gets to know him beneath the strict boss persona. But Lisa has a secret Dan mustn't discover and has several of her own inner demons to conquer. Dan has always been a player. Can he settle down with one woman, no matter how much she fascinates him? They just can't be a couple, no matter how beautiful their hearts are. There is too much pitched against them.
Find it here: https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/167455941-beautiful-hearts

Monday, October 8, 2018

Book Review - Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski

Today, I'm doing something different - I'm reviewing a non-fiction book I read, just because I loved the book so much. Not as a favour to the author or upon request, or in exchange for anything. I don't have the book cover art then, but I'll post a link to where you can buy it on Amazon.


An essential exploration of women’s sexuality that will radically transform your sex life into one filled with confidence and joy.

After all the books that have been written about sex, all the blogs and TV shows and radio Q&As, how can it be that we all still have so many questions? The frustrating reality is that we’ve been lied to — not deliberately, it’s no one’s fault, but still. We were told the wrong story.

Come as You Are reveals the true story behind female sexuality, uncovering the little-known science of what makes us tick and, more importantly, how and why. Sex educator Dr Emily Nagoski debunks the common sexual myths that are making women (and some men!) feel inadequate between the sheets.

Underlying almost all of the questions we still have about sex is the common worry: ‘Am I normal?’ This book answers with a resounding Yes! We are all different, but we are all normal — and once we learn this, we can create for ourselves better sex and more profound pleasure than we ever thought possible.

For all those science nerds out there, this book is definitely for you. I'm NOT a science nerd, so I did struggle in some parts to read this book, although she mostly wrote it in layman's language, but still, it made my brain boggle a bit. (Maybe that's easy, lol.)

Anyway, I truly feel that this book is an essential read for every woman out there (and also for their partners). It's for straight or gay women, although she mentioned that she hasn't done enough research to help transgender people.

There is so much out there in the media, which is largely accepted as true about women's sexuality, which is a far cry from scientific fact. Yes, the science is still evolving and growing, and they haven't discovered everything, but it's high time that people got wind of how we work as females.

I'm going to summarise what she covers, in brief, as I don't want this review to be a spoiler, but I do want people to get an idea of the powerful message she conveys:

1. We are all different down there physically and unless our body causes us discomfort or pain, we are normal and beautiful! (Porn stars are just that - porn stars, and oftentimes photo-shopped or changed.)

2. Physiological response is not the same as desire. Women need desire for true pleasure. Desire goes a lot deeper than just a physical thing.

2. Just like our physical parts are all arranged differently, so our way of functioning as a sexual being is unique. Not all women get aroused a certain way, orgasm the same way, and find the same things pleasurable. (Yes, I've written a post about this before and this book only confirmed my concerns about how women are portrayed sexually in media - 18+ movies, magazines, and some erotic fiction.) These images we have in our heads about how we should behave don't always measure up to our own realities, and when they don't, we start to believe that there is something deeply wrong with us. And that belief is the biggest downfall in our sexual pleasure.

3. Women are not the same as men. Yes, physiologically, we actually are fairly similar, if you look at the internal biology of our parts, but, as women, and some men, we are deeply affected by external matters when it comes to how ready and seamless we are in times of intimacy. We have brakes and they're all connected to our brains. And it's quite complex what causes those brakes. She goes into it in great detail and it is an enlightening read. Unfortunately, women are expected to act like men sexually and they are, once again, portrayed like that in magazines, movies, porn, etc. They are expected to be in the mood all the time, to have spontaneous desire (i.e. non-responsive desire) like men.

4. We don't actually have a sex drive. We have a sex desire. A drive is something that pushes us onto survival. We can survive as individuals without sex, but not as a species. That gives no excuse for sexual assault or the non-consensual stuff. NO ONE has any excuse to say that they need sex and that they had to have someone for their own needs to be met!

5. She goes into how to eliminate or work through the brakes that hold us back. Great advice. And a lot to chew on.

I don't know if I've conveyed her thoughts properly as I'm not very scientific, so I really think you should read it yourself, if you're interested.

Added thoughts on the book as copied from my Goodreads review:

Thank you so much, Emily. You have healed my broken heart!

This amazing scientific book (which did go over my head a little bit at times) showed me that I'm perfectly normal and wonderful just as I am. I understood myself for the first time. I'm not broken; I'm not "not enough". I just have sensitive brakes.

This book empowers women. There is so much in the media - magazines, TV, porn, romantic fiction, that gives false messages on women's sexuality. Everyone is buying into these lies (based on ignorance and thinking women are the same as men). It's making women believe they are messed up sexually, and making men less than loving and patient toward their partners. The book goes into almost every dynamic of issues (which are actually caused more by stress, low self-esteem and a misunderstanding of our brakes and accelerators than anything else) - you need to read it to understand.

I feel like Emily is a strong sister who has taken my hand and raised it up to the sky and shouted to the world that "She is enough".

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Come-You-Are-surprising-transform-ebook/dp/B00V58R0ZE

Friday, October 5, 2018

Why I Said "Thank You" and How It Helped

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a spiritual teaching by Matt Khan, as recommended by a friend who did Reiki on me. I don't resonate with everything he teaches, but I was challenged and stirred by a strong message he gave about our soul's purpose and the pain we face in our lives.

For quite some time now, I've realised that my painful marriage breakup and divorce was something that my soul had chosen to go through before I came to this planet at this time. I don't know why, whether it was a karma thing that I had to learn (karma, I believe, is to learn self-forgiveness), but more so, I believe it was to grow me as a soul.

My husband of twenty years broke it to me in July 2016 that he didn't love me anymore. It was a total shock and devastation. It's been over two years now since that dark day, and the past few months I've been partly annoyed with myself for not being able to move on and get over the grief. Yes, sure I accepted myself, but I was kind of sick of the negative emotions. Although they'd eased quite a bit, they were still hurting me. All the memories - good and bad - would roll around inside me. It wasn't a constant, all-day thing, like in the beginning, but then something would happen to make it come out - like him talking to me, seeing an old photo, or me hearing about the other woman. Several messages from Spirit (like pulling cards), had relayed to me that it was time to let go of the heartbreak. I really wanted to, but how?

Then Matt Khan told his YouTube listeners to say, "Thank you" to the very people who cause us the most pain. As hard as it was, I said "Thank you" to my ex, and I meant it. I knew that what he'd done was for the growth of my soul. I trusted that the emotions would follow that decision to thank him. And to thank The Universe and my soul for choosing this path.

My Reiki friend's session may have helped too as she felt a blockage in my sacral (relationship/sexual/creative) chakra. She told me to wear orange. 😀 Interestingly enough, she said my heart chakra was very clear and open. Matt Khan said that grief and loss breaks open our hearts.

Anyway, my ex has recently gone on a trip to Australia to visit the woman he left me for. Normally, just the knowledge of it would get me into all the negative thought patterns - why am I not good enough but she is, why did he commit to loving me forever and break that promise, and many more. And the emotions would be bad! But something has happened. It's like I suddenly realised, I get to have the juicy goodness of soul growth. I have grown so much the last two years, spiritually, mentally, and practically. I've learned how to be independent, I've learned self-love, I've learned about codependency and unhealthy relationships. I get to be at peace and no longer in a codependent relationship. I get to be free to love myself, without anything holding me back. I get to follow my own path without having to hide it. I don't have to work like a hamster on a wheel to please him for fear of losing him, like I had been for years.

As spring has arrived in my country, I also feel like it's a period of fullness and new growth for me. I'm now finally seeing the new shoots of growth and freedom that I've been planting after two years of working on my healing and self-love and forgiveness. I've grown in unconditional love and non-judgement. Sure, I'm not totally there yet, but there are new, lush shoots of growth. There's a shrub / tree - I'm not sure what - in my tiny front yard that's called the Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Last year, spring, just after we'd moved here, the tree had one or two flowers. The bush has the most beautiful flowers, in shades of white, lilac, and purple, with a sweet, feminine scent. I wondered why it wasn't covered in them, as I knew the bush to be. Two new little bushes have also sprouted up in the garden! Anyway, this year, it's full of life. It's as though it's a message to me of the life that has bloomed in my soul the last year. I'm so grateful.

I'm glad I said "Thank you." Sure, I still get negative thoughts, but they don't pierce me as strongly. I get to create new happy memories with my kids, my pets, and my new path in life. I live back in my home town where I get to see my family I've been away from for so long. I get to do fun things like go to dance class, or follow the spiritual path that makes me happy.

Grief is real, and many of us go through things on this planet that are very painful. But I believe that our souls have chosen to go through things to grow. At the time, it's so painful that we don't see the message and the lesson, but over time, it begins to unfold, if we are willing to surrender and trust. When we say "Thank you" to our greatest pain and pain-causers, something happens that propels us forward into exponential growth.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Card Spread for Creativity Block

I love using tarot and oracle cards to tap into my intuition and the divine.

I'm still struggling with writer's block and it's so frustrating. So, I designed this spread to help me. I don't know if it's going to solve the problem. I actually think stepping away from writing may be the answer for me right now. I plan to get stuck into some other creative stuff. What, I'm not sure. Maybe I'll try Inktober this year (check this out: https://inktober.com/rules/)

Anyway, I thought maybe one of you may benefit from my spread. You can even use playing cards if you don't have tarot. Or an oracle card deck could work too. There is such a gorgeous selection out there to choose from.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Re: Free Short Story on Wattpad

I have put up my paranormal romance short story on Wattpad. If you would like a free read, especially for Halloween, then help yourself.

Here is a blurb:

Susanna's dreamed of visiting Tuscany, Italy, her whole life, but she's not so enthusiastic when her travel agent boss sends her on a tour to the province at the last minute, just before Halloween. When Susanna joins Ghostly Tours, she can't ignore the handsome blue-eyed American, Shane. Nor can she resist engaging with the blue-eyed ghost who visits her and pampers her at night, a ghost who looks too much like the man she sees during the day. Soon she realizes that Shane is more than a stranger, but rather someone she's known for a long time, way longer than her current lifetime. The two share a history steeped in hurt; this very history keeps Shane from embracing his humanity and stops Susanna from finding her true purpose in life. Are they destined to destroy each other's destinies? Or does the love they share transcend the past?

Here is the link: https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/162103224-ghostly-tours

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

When Self-Love Gets Tested

So, I've started my next self-love book. It's about deepening your self-love, especially when it gets tested.

My self-love has been tested this week, specifically in the area of body acceptance. Phew, this one is hard for me to work on. Most of my life, growing up, I was skinny. I was blessed with a super-efficient metabolism. I could eat whatever I liked and not put on an ounce of weight. Then I had three kids. I still managed to lose most of my baby weight after breastfeeding them each for a year, and running after active toddlers, but when I hit my late thirties, I developed thyroid problems. I was no longer what society would deem attractive i.e. thin. My metabolism hit a big snag. I managed to go on thyroid hormones, which thankfully made me feel a lot healthier, but it didn't make the weight drop off.

Society had told me my whole life that if I wanted to be attractive to my husband, I had to be thin. And if I wanted to just plain-old be attractive and considered worthy of respect from society, I had to have a certain figure. So, when I heard about the low-carb paleo diet, I was hooked. I got brainwashed into thinking this was the magic pill. Yes, I did lose weight. I looked "acceptable" again, but it came at a great cost. My thyroid levels dipped to an all-time low and I developed several other health problems. After two and a half years of trying to make this "magic pill" diet work, and after I stumbled upon some material against low-carb dieting, I broke the diet. I felt so much better, almost immediately. It took a while for the deeper problems to heal. One of them never healed - I developed allergies while on the diet. I still struggle with them today.

After I broke the diet and started eating enough again to feel healthy and energetic, I put back all my weight and a lot more - the perils of compromising your metabolism on an unhealthy diet. My husband at the time started criticising me for how I looked. I allowed his words to get to me. (I wasn't aware of self-love at the time.) I developed deep insecurities about myself as a person, but...at the same time I read a lot of material by Summer Innanen and other advocates for health at every size. I researched on health and the stigma that's attached to weight, and how it's more a social problem than anything else. That there is very little proof that being overweight is necessarily the cause of illnesses. Yes, it's often caused by illnesses, but inherently, in itself, is not always harmful. (It's more harmful to hate yourself and compromise your health.) I began to learn the importance of accepting myself as I am. How hating on my body was not going to help me be happy, healthy, and peaceful as a person. I read up on how dieting actually makes us fat. Every time we diet, we may lose weight temporarily, but then we can't maintain it long-term, so we put the weight back on. And many times, more. Any time we restrict calories, we compromise many systems in our bodies. I'd rather not live like that. I can't afford to because of my particular health dynamic.

So, I'm not skinny anymore. I'm actually overweight. It's hard to put your photo on a dating profile. It's hard to feel good about yourself sometimes.

Yesterday, I went to dance class and one of the ladies there was videoing us practising a dance. I asked her to send me a copy so I could show my kids that I am actually dancing every Monday night and not going on a mysterious date. I watched the video and my heart sank. I was so huge compared to the other slim ladies in the class. I felt like an elephant. It was so hard to comprehend.

I realised that I'm having a self-love test here. If I can't appreciate and love the body vessel that I've got for my time on this earth, then I'm in serious trouble. I'm so grateful for my body and all it can do. It gives me the strength to do those dance steps, which are such fun. Sure, I don't look amazing doing them, but I'm growing as a person, by learning these difficult steps. I also know that women have hormones, and at a particular time of month, the hormones go really low and during that time, they really don't like the way they look. Any self-dislike gets magnified tenfold. So, I'm not letting this experience, that my hormones gives me, plunge me into a depression and another diet cycle. I mean, today, I even considered going on a diet again. I thought, "How will I find a man looking like this? People must find me disgusting." But those thoughts are from the ego mind - the lower mind, which comes from the messages we've been given all our lives, that our worth as women is attached to how thin we are.

So, instead of hating on myself, I'm going to slay this dragon and love on myself even more. I'm going to be kind to my body and nourish it and give it the rest it needs. I'm going to love the wiggly bits because they're what makes up me. I'm going to choose to believe that I am beautiful, and wait for the hormonal dip to pass before I take any of my thoughts seriously. Self-depreciation be gone.

So, how do we love ourselves when we don't fit into society's norms?

1. Eat, sleep, have fun.

2. Be the biggest advocate for your inner child. Yes, your inner child was told that if you became fat, or if you were already fat, it was serious and you would be ugly and useless. That's a lie. Being fat does not mean being unfit, incapable, stupid, or unhealthy. There are many thin people who struggle with feelings of lack of self-worth. I struggled with it all those years when I was thin. Being thin did not help me feel better about myself. I was so afraid of getting fat. It petrified me. Give your inner child a good hug and tell her that she is lovable just the way she is and that if someone insults her, they WILL pay the consequences. (You can certainly stand up for yourself in your mind. Not a soul can stop you from doing that.)

3. Buy yourself that outfit you'd love (if your bank balance allows) even if it's not slimming, just because you damn-well love the colours, or the cut, or the stripes.

4. Accept compliments. When people say your Facebook profile pic looks good, believe them. When they say, "You look lovely today," believe them. And thank them without starting the long description of your faults.

5. Accept that sometimes you won't like what you see in the mirror. We all have those days. But choose to not let that make you come down hard on yourself. Keep up your self-care, and show compassion to yourself. Trust that those feelings will pass.

6. Look into the mirror and say something like, "You're amazing, you're beautiful, and you're so unique."

7. Think of all the things your body can do and thank it.

8. Think of all the wonderful things in your life that you do and are. Realise that how you look is such a small part of your life experiences. There is so much fun to be had, no matter what size you are.

Any other suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Confession Time and Talking to Trees

So, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, I wrote erotic romance under a pseudonym. Well, for some strange reason, the blog I set up on Blogger for my alter-ego, disappeared. I couldn't access the Blogger for it and all my blog posts, no matter how much I tried. Very frustrating!

Anyway, I feel I owe it to the publisher of my erotic romance books (Decadent Publishing) to keep promoting my books, and seeing I don't have time to promote two different personas and man two different blogs, I'm taking the plunge and letting my readers know about my other books here. For sweet romance readers, you don't have to read further.

Anyway, I've been thinking quite a bit about one of the books I wrote under Vicki Ballante. It holds a very special place in my heart and to this day, is still one of my favourite books that I've ever written. In fact, I still get chills when I think about the story. And I also think it's one of my better works.

A few months ago, I read a really enchanting book called Secrets from the Lives of Trees https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Lives-Trees-Jeffrey-Goelitz/dp/1879052040. I found this book secondhand at a market and I couldn't resist buying it; although for a secondhand book, it wasn't all that cheap. Anyway, I eventually bought it and I was not at all disappointed.

The book is written by a man who developed a relationship with trees where he spoke to them telepathically. Just a few weeks before that, I'd felt a connection to the trees in my small garden. I cannot explain it, but I felt something with them. Now, don't think I'm strange. I'm quite a spiritual / telepathic person and I do pick up things very keenly.

Anyway, it reminded me of my story called The Century Sage. I hope you will read my beautiful story about a woman who can talk to trees. Trees are the peacemakers of our planet. In the Secrets from the Lives of Trees, the author stresses how they are vital for our well-being and to help us overcome stress.


Lina is a tree sage, a gifted person who heals trees, but her duty binds her to one place for her whole life until she marries. Tree sages must marry and birth a daughter by twenty-eight, even if true love is out of the picture. When hot rally winner Brad meets her, he is drawn to her mystical powers. Lina can’t resist the man who represents something she shouldn’t go for, but neither can she turn away his sexy touch. Brad offers to marry her and take her on a worldwide rally tour. She can fulfill her dream of traveling, and he provides a way to meet the demands of her breed, but will that be enough? What about love?

When Lina settles in Paris, loneliness and unfulfilled expectations threaten to pull the shaky relationship apart. Could the barriers between them be caused by an evil greater than they imagined? Soon, they will have to fight for Paris, but will they survive?

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Why I Regret Publishing More Than 15 Books in Three Years

After I obtained my very first publishing contract with Clean Reads (then called Astraea Press), the wind flowed beneath my wings! I took off. The writing just flowed; ideas came to me constantly; the contracts didn't stop. I would write a new book every three or four months, send them off to Astraea Press, and obtain a contract a few months later. They'd be out within 6 months from that. Then I took part in the Ubuntu line (African-style romances) of Decadent Publishing and wrote more books set in my own country. I ended up writing and publishing 4 books for the Ubuntu Line.

It was such fun.

But after a while, it became harder to write. The words didn't flow as easily. I think deep inside I knew they were no longer as much from the heart, that they were forced. But writing was my dream, I loved doing it, and I wanted to make a name for myself as an author. Bringing books out regularly was the way to do it, or so I thought. I tried to self-publish, hoping my sales would pick up then. It wasn't my most successful venture, even though I tried to promote my books and sent them to review sites. 

I even wrote some erotic romance books under a pseudonym. I thought erotic romance sold, but I really struggled to write it. I felt naughty writing it - as though I was rebelling against the very strict religious days of my youth, but that wasn't a good reason to write a genre. I also wrote it to please my ex - an even worse reason! Now, in hindsight, I know that sweet romance is the genre that works for me, that flows naturally for me. The erotic books never sold as well as my clean romances. What's worse is that I feel so dreadful as I have been unable to maintain two personas and my erotic-romance persona social media account and marketing is totally non-existent. I know I've messed my publisher around terribly in that regard.

Then the divorce happened and my romance writing almost totally died. I thought it may be the end of it. I still wonder as I've struggled so much. I have to say I'm sorry to both publishers - Clean Reads and Decadent Publishing for letting them down once my divorce happened as my marketing efforts blew up in smoke.

I have managed to write Cat Therapy the last year. It's been great fun. And I'm quite pleased now that I only have one book to focus on for marketing. I realise, in hindsight, that publishing so many books in such a short space of time wasn't the best idea. For these reasons:

1. You have less time to do revisions, go back to your book and edit it when you've stepped away from it after several months. There's nothing worse than being too close to your book - a phenomena we all face just after writing it.

2. You have less money for marketing. And time!! Yes, time. Marketing is a big thing and takes a lot of strategy, time, and dedication. (I'm also pleased that now I don't have to beg my ex for money for marketing, which he always hated giving me. Now I am king of my own finances and can choose to spend on marketing when I wish without grovelling. I always hated the grovelling!)

3. You tend to become numb to the feeling of satisfaction at a job well done. When the books are just flowing out, one after the other, you don't have time to stop and smell the beautiful scent of that masterpiece you've brought out into the world.

4. You get too bogged down with all the admin and marketing that comes with your writing, that you have less time for hobbies and other interests.

But in the end, I take my hat off to those authors who can pull off regular releases and make a success of them. They are true entrepreneurs who have made an art and a business out of their craft! Well done to you. I just don't think that's my thing anymore, and that's all right.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Exciting News!!

I'm so thrilled to share - I'm about to sign a contract for Cat Therapy with Black Opal Books!

My animal soul mate - Ginger

Cat Therapy has had quite a journey so far. Besides the multiple revisions, it's also been a story of hope for me. I didn't know if I'd ever get to publish a romance novel again in my life. It's been so hard to write romance since my divorce. I poured my heart into the book. And my love of cats! I feel like it's a new beginning for me, that I can still write romance. I even have another book idea brewing!!

Here's the tentative blurb to give you an idea of my story:

Two-times divorcee Cherry Smith is quite happy with single life. Well, a little lonely at times, until her elderly friends give her four cats. She already has two cats and a dog. Six cats? Can she handle it? When the kitten needs her shots, she visits the new bachelor vet in town. Dr. Jeff Clark turns out to be even more handsome than what she's heard in the small town where she lives. But Cherry can't let him distract her. She's been burned too many times by attractive men. He makes her feel uncomfortable, especially when she tells him she has six cats, and he seems to disapprove. To pacify him, she says that she's running a cat therapy hotel. As she ponders the lie on her way home, she realises what a fantastic idea it is. With the help of her friend Delia, they set up their bed and breakfast facility.

People start coming to avail of the love of her cats, including a gentle widower named Seb, who needs help with his grieving son. Cherry should really go for someone like him, but when the impossible Jeff Clark keeps wanting to check on her operation, she can't help finding a friend in the man who takes her breath away. Friendship with him wouldn't be a good idea because she likes him too much and it's way too soon after his divorce. So when Seb asks her on a date, she agrees. Maybe if she settled with the safer option, her heart wouldn't be at risk anymore. But when crazy things start to happen around her, Cherry needs a man she can turn to who understands. A man like Jeff.

Cat Therapy is a tender and funny women's fiction about healing, love, and cats!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Find the Beauty in YOU

I'm going to be sharing more and more things on self-love - the message I believe I'm meant to share to the world. Here's an excerpt from my book on self-love: Falling in Love with Me - 30 Days of Self-Love, that hopefully will be published in the near future.


The keys to keeping a long-term relationship alive and healthy is choosing to focus on the good things in your partner. It takes a decision sometimes. The relationship we have with ourselves is the only one that’s going to last a lifetime. Grow that relationship. Focus on the good things.
The beauty of it, is that you’re more able to face your shadows when you’re appreciative of your good stuff. In fact, those very shadows are beautiful gifts of growth for us.
Maybe make a list of things you like about yourself.
Write down a thank you to yourself for all the things you’ve done this week to help you grow in your self-love journey.
Find one thing about your body that you like. Everyone has something. Maybe it’s your toenails. Or your belly button. Or your thumbs. Or do you really love your hair?
You came to this earth in this body. I believe that we chose to live this life. We chose this body to exist in. We wanted it. Maybe it’s caused some pain and suffering at times, but it’s beautiful and magical. It’s so complex. It can do so much.
Don’t judge your externals by the world’s standards. This body of yours is a vessel—a magical one that you chose to live through.
Look at yourself as a bouquet of flowers. Some of the flowers in the bunch are more colorful than others. But the duller, more muted ones complement the brighter ones. It all makes up a beautiful harmonious whole. You’re this mishmash of goodness and icky bits, gladness and sadness. Your good parts are the glue that gives the contrast to the whole bunch. When you’re feeling blue, it’s good to think of the good things.
Our culture has taught us to find beauty in only certain things: long legs, flat tummy, sleek hair, small nose, high cheekbones, clear skin, CISgender, etc. The key is to find beauty in a new way—to take a different perspective. Beauty makes life, well, beautiful. Try to find beauty in all people. When you do that, you open your eyes to real beauty. You open your eyes to endless possibilities to experience beauty in your life. You’ll then open your eyes to your own beauty.
Find beauty in the small things: that flower blowing in the breeze, the smell of rain after a hot day, the aroma of freshly baked pizza. Let it feed your soul.

Here is a bonus extra that's not in the book:

Meditation for Finding Your Own Beauty

Find a quiet spot away from technology and people. Take a hand mirror with you. Sit or lie down - make sure you feel comfortable. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath or a part of your body for a few minutes. Imagine a cloak of love falling down from the sky and resting upon your shoulders. Feel the warmth of that love infuse your whole being. Breathe in that love. See it get absorbed from your shoulders into your chest and heart area, then your stomach area, then your legs and your arms, and your head. Feel that warm liquid of love pulse throughout your whole body. See it grow until it surrounds you in a beautiful golden glow. Bask in that glow.

Now see the picture of a lover in front of you. It doesn't have to be anyone you know - just imagine someone very loving and kind. They are deeply in love with you. See them looking at you with such love and admiration in their eyes, as though they have found the greatest treasure of their lives. Feel that love and acceptance beaming from them toward you. Hear them say, "You are so beautiful." Now open your eyes slowly and hold the mirror in front of you. You are now that lover. See yourself through the eyes of that person who loved you and admired you so much. Look at all the features in you that this person or being was infatuated with. Appreciate those things. Acknowledge as many as you can. See yourself through beauty-viewing eyes. If you keep finding fault in yourself, don't berate yourself - just don't dwell on the thought and shift your thoughts towards the beauty-viewing. Smile at yourself. Put the mirror down.

Now close your eyes again. Feel that feeling of admiration, of appreciation from the depths of your being. Pick it up off your body like it's a ball of light or energy. Hold that ball in your palm. Put your hand over your heart and place that ball / feeling into your heart. Pat it to keep it there. Imagine it's found it's home in your heart now. Take a few more gentle and relaxing breaths. Wriggle your fingers and toes. Open your eyes again and focus on the room.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Alien Captured

Today, I want to welcome fellow ROSA writer, Marie Dry, to my blog, with her 5th book in her alien romance series.


In a bleak future, where government systems are breaking down and poverty and violence reign, on an abandoned farm in Montana, Susannah had a simple plan. She’d capture an alien, sell him to the resistance, and use the money to save her son.

Instead, Susannah had an arrogant alien trapped in a pit who acted as if she was the prisoner. He wanted to kill her dog and insisted she should care for the wound he sustained when he fell into the pit she dug to trap him. On top of that, she had no way to know if the resistance got her message. Every day that passed, she doubted her decision to hand Azagor over to the resistance.

But her son, her baby, was being held by people who considered him unclean because he was conceived out of wedlock—and time was running out.


She thought she had everything under control until her little dog fell into the pit that held the alien captive.

Susannah jumped up, and Killer, who had sat next to her, yipped and jumped away. Everything slowed around her, and while she stood, horror freezing her veins, Killer fell into the hole. His small paws scrabbled at the rusted iron of the trapdoor and then he fell. She saw his mouth move, knew he was barking and yipping, but she couldn’t hear him.

Susanna stood petrified, her heartbeat slowing, seeing the world around her > through a tunnel. The only other time she’d felt this strange sensation was when she realized they’d taken Noah, and she’d never see him again. At the end of the strange twisting tunnel, she saw the alien’s green savage face staring up at her.

He held her tiny dog in his hand, and he and Killer stared at each other, Killer frozen and obviously not knowing what to do. At least the fall didn’t seem to have injured him. His bones were very fragile, and Caine had warned her they broke very easily. Azagor lifted his hand until he held Killer in front of his face and pulled his lips back from his teeth.

Abruptly life rushed back into her frozen limbs. “Don’t you dare eat him,” she screamed while praying Killer didn’t pee on the alien’s hand.

The alien looked at the dog and then at her, and his hand closed ever so slightly. Five claws pointed at Killer’s fragile head. He held her dog up to her like an offering, while his vicious claws slowly lengthened.


Night Owl Reviews:

Marie Dry has really knocked the ball out of the park with this Science Fiction alien romance. The fifth book in the Zyrgin Warriors series, "Alien Captured" is a nonstop adventure ride that will not only keep the reader engaged and turning pages but will pull at the heart strings.

Savannah thinks to save her son by capturing one of the aliens who have invaded Earth. Azagor believes he will capture the heart of Savannah, the woman he's chosen to be his. The problem, Savannah believes him to be an evil demon sent to punish her. Having grown up in a strict religious cult that has shunned technology and where women are slaves, she doesn't know anything about the modern world. Azagor considers himself a modern warrior and is floored at how little Savannah knows and how hard her life has truly been. Slowly Azagor shows Savannah that his intentions are honorable and he's not a demon but more importantly that he will help her find her son.

This was a touching and passionate story with some laughs, heartache, and celebration. I recommend this book and the series by Marie Dry.

Whisky with My Book Review:

I can’t review this book without giving some consideration to the heroine, Susannah. Some might look on Susannah as a weak character. Indeed, in modern contemporary society, she would be considered not only weak, but also backward. But the author provides a thorough background on Susannah, who is very much a product of her upbringing. In this case, I think nature and nurture had it in for her and the other females in her cult. Susannah is a member of a cult that is ruled a man (Brother Josephatus) who fancies himself to be the right hand of God. The women do all the work and have no rights. The women were raised this way and accept the status quo even if they do not like it.

But the cult has abandoned Susannah because they (Brother Joseph) believe she is no good. First, she had a child out of wedlock. In addition to that, she claims to have seen a demon.

Well, that demon was actually the Zyrgin warrior, Azagor. I’m sure anyone could make that mistake. They are green-skinned, red-eyed and have a forehead ridge that could be a horn.

Left on her own, and desperate to get her son Noah back, Susannah’s strengths spring to life. First she conceived the Alien Captured plan. Now that is a title I would not have expected to see in the Zyrgin Warrior series – Alien Captured? The highly trained, arrogant ‘I-am-a-Zyrgin-Warrior‘ type should never have allowed himself to be captured.

And yet, it happened. It would be spoilerish to say much more about the warrior’s capture. But if you think Azagor will stay captive for very long….well, he is a Zyrgin Warrior!

The captive situation puts Azagor just where he wants to be, in the company of Susannah. As you can see, the warrior has some preconceived ideas of what should be happening:

Instead of harboring fantasies of contacting the resistance, she should want to tend to his wound. Sponge down his body and be so impressed with his superior warrior’s physique that she would want to be his breeder.

Susannah treats him as a dangerous enemy to be used. He treats her as a captor to convince to become is breeder. Breeder is the Zrygin word for mate. Azagor (and most of his fellow warriors) don’t have any clue that human women are not all all keen on that word. Misunderstanding ensues, followed by humor.

The lack of understanding about each other and their cultures makes for a lot of misunderstanding. Some is not very funny, but some is quite humorous. What is really funny is what Azagor thinks he knows because of what other human women have told him and the human movies he has watched. I think the cultural differences that create such wonderful interactions are my favorite parts of the Zrygin warrior stories.

But this one also has one more thing that always to appeals to me. A dog. Killer is a Teacup Yorkie – the last of it’s kind. He is a tiny little dog with a huge heart. He takes on the mean green alien without backing down. I can’t help but love this little Killer, even if Azagor thinks it looks like a rat and doesn’t like him:

She was about to grab Killer and run when Azagor stopped as abruptly as he’d started. “He is small and weak. You should kill him. I will get you a better pet.” He absently scratched at his wound, and she swallowed. Didn’t he feel any pain? “The Aurelians have pets.” He said it as if having a pet was the strangest thing to do. “They are called battle leopards. It will protect you.” His lips pulled into what she supposed was his attempt at a smile. If he ever wanted to scare anyone to death, all he had to do was smile. “We’ll make the rat the first snack for your new pet.”

There is more to that rat story, but I won’t say more.

There is also a child, but in this case, he is too young to talk, and therefore does not have that ‘cute kid’ appeal. Susannah’s baby, Noah, was taken from her as soon as he was born. He doesn’t appear until late in the story, but his appearance makes for a heart-wrenching scene. And while the baby does not qualify for cute kid status, the Zrygin warriors reactions to Noah are quite endearing.

There are some interesting, quieter side stories. One about the project of building something in space. Also there is talk of a previous time travel project. I am not sure if I would know more if I had read the first three books in the series? But I would like to know more. Perhaps there will be additional details in book 6.

I really enjoy the alien/human relations in this series. In Alien Captured, the cultural clashes and misunderstandings make for the best rocky start to what will turn into a very cool romance between the determined heroine and the even more determined hero. If you have enjoyed other books in the series, you will like this one. If you are new to the series, go easy on Azagor, until he wises up. You’ll like him!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Buy the book here: Amazon

About Marie:

Ever since she can remember Marie Dry wanted to travel. She had had the privilege of living in Zambia, Morocco, and Spain and sees herself as a bit of a gypsy. Every few years she gets restless and has to be some place new.

She read romances since she was nine and was fairly young when she decided she would write the perfect story that had all the elements she looked for in a romance. In 1997 she decided to go all out with her writing and to get published. Being published by Black Opal Books is a dream come true for her.

There are several wonderful moments in her life that she would never trade for anything. One of them is meeting President Nelson Mandela and the second being published.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

My Lesson from the Velveteen Rabbit

I don't know if you've ever read the children's classic, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

I discovered there were some beautiful life lessons in the little story, for me. And maybe for anyone else who has had their heart broken. And for humans else out there. 💟

Spoilers below, if you plan to read the book yourself or to one of your children / grandchildren:

The velveteen rabbit is a plushie given to a boy for Christmas. At first, the boy doesn't connect with the soft toy, but soon he finds it's his favourite toy and he takes the plushie with him everywhere. It gets rough and worn, but according to the velveteen rabbit's friend the Skin Horse, he's becoming real. The more he's worn, the more real he becomes. One day, he meets flesh-and-bone rabbits, and a little seed is planted inside of him to be able to move like they do, but then his time with his boy grows, and he's so happy, he forgets about them.

Firstly, I love this message. As life wears us down, and things come our way to make us not so shiny and perfect on the outside, we become more real on the inside. And that begins to show out in the world. It's called vulnerability. And vulnerability is beautiful. In fact, vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown, states that those who believe that their vulnerability makes them beautiful are the most resilient human beings in the planet. As soon as we take off the mask that we always have to be okay and good and strong and positive, and break down the lie that when we're not tough all the time, we're weak and inferior, we can be human and oh so strong. Because when we hide our true emotions - the good ones and the bad, when we choose to gloss over those painful parts of ourselves, we put a band-aid over a bleeding sore. We ignore our emotions by numbing them with food, alcohol, social media, working constantly, fitness fanaticism, dieting, parties, etc. Numbing them makes us less able to experience the happy emotions - the genuine ones. If we can't face our grief, our sorrow, our rejection, our anger, then we will never fully feel our happiness, relief, peace, satisfaction, etc. And that's why we are a messed-up society. We idolise strength and stoicness. Vulnerability is seen as weakness.

Vulnerability is what makes us strong. We have to learn to love ourselves whether we are strong, capable and with it, or whether we feel like crap, or the breakfast the dog brought up on the carpet.

Breathe into those bad emotions. Let them sit in you for a while, and then find a way to grow out of them. They don't have to stay. But they need to wear out that velveteen inside your bunny ears, and rub the pink sheen off your plastic nose, and thin out the plush fur on your rump. They make you real. And we all really, truly, in the depths of our being, love a real person, because they teach us to connect with that deep part of ourselves - that part that longs for love, and that part that is compassionate and empathetic. Being real means loving the whole YOU.

But bad things happen to velveteen rabbit. His beautiful boy becomes sick. Rabbit lies by his side through the terrifying illness until the boy becomes better. Rabbit is there for him, whispering to him that he can make it. And he does make it. Problem is, the doctor decides that the boy needs to go to the coast for a while to heal some more. And all his dirty old toys need to be tossed out and burned to get rid of the scarlet fever germs. Rabbit gets thrown in a box and taken to the bottom of the yard to get burned.

Rabbit feels all alone. He thinks back to all those beautiful days when he was thoroughly loved by the boy, how his love made him real. He's tormented by the happy memories, especially as he knows it's over. He cries real, water-and-salt tears, and those tears sink into the ground. A flower springs up with a fairy inside. The fairy is beautiful and she plays her magic on the velveteen rabbit. She makes him truly real - rabbit made of fur, and bones, and cells. He discovers he can bounce around like the wild rabbits he'd seen before - the ones he'd secretly longed to be. And he joins their tribe.

This story hit me in the heart, in the gut. Because I fell in love with my husband. He showed me love like I'd never known before in my life. It was beautiful; the memories of happiness are there. He helped me with my low self-esteem. Then one day, the boy got sick and he grew up, and he didn't need me anymore. I got thrown out in a box to be burned at the bottom of the yard.

But I didn't die there. My tears made some magic with the earth. Earth and water alchemy. And I was made real, and I'm still being made real. I'm learning to love ME. I'm learning that I don't need the love of a boy to know true love, that true love lives in me, that loving myself for ME is true love.

It's hard to be vulnerable and real. When people are judgemental, it makes it extra hard. The other day, I was having a bit of a tough time. My kids wanted desperately to send their dad a birthday and Father's Day present. But they couldn't decide what. Eventually they did - at the last minute. And they wanted me to get a photo printed of them standing next to the woman my ex left me for. They wanted to put it in a frame and get it posted to him. It was a punch to my gut. I nearly didn't go through with it. But I chose to make them happy. They don't understand the true extent of the pain my ex has caused me, both through the divorce and subsequently through certain actions. They may never. (And I don't want them to if it means they must suffer the same pain.) But I love them and want to make them happy. So, I went to the photo shop to organize the photo and to organize a Father's Day present for him. I knew inside that he would never appreciate all that I went through to arrange this for him - it took out a whole day from my busy schedule. But I did it for them. So, I told the lady at the photo shop about my dilemma. At first, she looked a bit wary of me sprouting off my personal pain to a stranger. Before I would've berated myself inwardly for telling a stranger my woes, and I would've been angry with her for not offering a sympathetic ear. But then, I decided that she's young, and newly married (with a gorgeous shiny ring) and isn't used to vulnerability - many of us aren't. She's human and she's a product of our stoic society. I didn't hate her for it. And that made me friendly toward her. I ended up leaving the shop with a good feeling between the woman and I. She made me laugh and we shared some jokes and a pleasant report. I felt better about the whole thing after that.

Vulnerability isn't easy, but being real is beautiful. We each secretly long to bounce around with the true tribe of bunnies out there in the wild. Wild women and men we are - deep inside. Let fairy magic sparkle.

(Thanks to morguefile.com for the photos.)

You can buy The Velveteen Rabbit here: https://www.amazon.com/Velveteen-Rabbit-Illustrated-Optimized-Kindle-ebook/dp/B002UNN7SW

You can listen to Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

My Reader Story

As writers, we are also often avid readers too.

And we each have a reader story.

I'm keen to know what yours is.

Here is mine in summary (as it's a lot more complicated than I remember, probably). It's always evolving.

When I was a kid, I developed a deep love for books and used to walk to the library every week to get a whole lot to read. My dad kindly fuelled the passion by subscribing me to the Puffin book club where I received a couple of classics every month. I loved getting new books every month. Oh, the smell of a new book. I devoured most of them.

As a teenager, my taste for reading was deeply affected by my religion. I became very religious as a teenager and I felt I should only read Christian books. There were some great ones at the time - stories of young girls from difficult backgrounds who came to Christ. And I read sagas like "This Present Darkness" by Frank Peretti, which were gripping and rather scary! They did upset me at times, especially since we were told to be afraid of the devil. I read a lot of Christian teaching books too.

Towards the end of my high school years, I didn't read much at all - I actually became too religious for my own good. Then I went to Bible college and after that, worked. A little later, I fell in love, got married, and moved to Zambia where we soon had our babies. I began to read again while breastfeeding my babies. I found the hours spent breastfeeding them a great time to read. I only read Christian books though, most of them sweet, inspirational romances. This grew when we moved back to South Africa and I joined the wonderful Newcastle library.

After I wrote my first romance, I met other writers, and learned about other romance genres. I read their books and began to open my mind to reading non-inspirational books. I devoured the romance genre, even dipping into the erotic romance genre.

Then I deconstructed from my strict religion. The divorce happened. Suddenly, I couldn't read romance anymore. And that was the only fiction I really enjoyed. I became stuck. But then I began to devour self-help and general spiritual books. So, that is my current reader status - I'm really into spiritual books at the moment. They are my usual fare. I do read a novel from time to time, but I've become a lot fussier about what I read. I'm just tired of the same old thing. Also, I read romance almost every day for my day job. As an editor, I've become extra critical about the genre too and have to read high quality for me to finish a book.

I also really struggle to read a novel on the kindle. For some reason, it loses its magic. But if I find a good physical book, I can get really into it.

What about you?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Indie Editing Chick Offer

I am so blessed. I get to read books as my day job. Okay, sometimes, when on a tight schedule, it can be really intense!

I've been running Indie Editing Chick for over a year now and have some amazing clients who send me some beautiful books. I feel so honoured to have played a part in several Amazon bestsellers.

I didn't even realise that I'd be good at editing because I find my own books need thorough editing before they go out there. But I think that's actually part of the reason I've become a successful editor - I know what it's like to be on the other end. I also know what it's like to have difficult editors who want to change your wording or voice, or those who don't bother to check your grammar and wording properly.

Editing other people's books has taught me so much about writing. It's taught me how to see a good story or a diamond in the rough. My favourite part is when I fix up a glaring inconsistency or character flaw in the story. I actually really like it when something needs a good fixing. 😊 It makes me feel useful. (I know, it's hard for the authors to sort out, but it's also a chance to make the book shine.)

Please pop around to my website to take a look at what services I provide at reasonable rates:

Indie Editing Chick

I'm offering a half-price proofread of a book of no more than 50K to one lucky person who comments on my blog or Facebook post.

Self-Love vs Self-Esteem

Growing up, we were often told the importance of self-esteem. Self-esteem is absolutely wonderful and we all need to learn more of it. We need to believe in ourselves and our strengths and abilities. But self-esteem isn't enough. There's more.

To be whole as human beings, we need to truly love and accept ourselves. Loving ourselves is one of the best ways to have a healthy mind and heart. As I've started to learn to love myself in a deep and transformative way, my life has blossomed. I've grown in happiness, peace, and confidence. I've become less judgmental of others as I've become more respectful and kind to myself.

So, I decided to write a book about it. My book Falling in Love with Me - 30 Days of Self-Love is now complete and has been sent to a publisher. It's a 30-day devotional for spiritual seekers. Thirty days of learning how to love yourself more. I'd love to give you a sneak peak from inside the unedited version:

Day 15 – Have Fun

I have this beautiful oracle card deck by Gabrielle Bernstein called “The Universe Has Your Back.” I read her book of the same title, and it touched me deeply, so I couldn’t resist getting the deck to remind me of the truths. Lately, I’ve been picking one of them frequently which states: The Universe Works Fast When I’m Having Fun.
That saying sounds like a lot of nonsense when you read it offhand. I mean, how do we get our dreams to manifest and save up for our future when we’re having fun? We need to work hard to make our dreams come true. Everything in life requires hard work.
Of course, hard work is important, but there’s a subtle truth in the saying which I’ve been pondering.
When we only think of our duty and all the things we need to do, when we forget to relax and enjoy our life, we become less and less effective. We lose touch with our intuitive, creative self. I don’t know about you, but the times I am least creative are when I’m overburdened and overly stressed. Creativity flourishes when we’re relaxed and having fun.
How do we have fun?
I know this sounds like a silly question, but honestly, as adults, it’s quite hard.
What do you enjoy?
When you’ve been ignoring your own needs for so long, this is a hard thing to know. Why don’t you go on a self-discovery journey to find out what you do enjoy? Take up some hobbies, try some creative projects—they don’t have to be elaborate. Join a group if you are energized by being around people. Do something in nature. The earth is very grounding and supportive and heals us emotionally.
I think the hardest thing for me was to lean into fun and relax. It takes time to find a rhythm. And hey, if you don’t have enough fun and you start to run yourself ragged, be easy on yourself. It’s a learning process. You’ll get there.
Try to emulate a child. Get in touch with your inner child—that innocent, free, uninhibited self. Children are fascinated with the world around them and they don’t feel guilty about enjoying simple things. Really, you don’t have to do anything huge and momentous to have fun. You could walk around the shops and check out purses or belts—buy a couple you like or even start a collection of snowglobes or postage stamps. You could watch a different series on Netflix. Or you could experiment with all the things you could do with a glue gun. Make origami with colorful papers or take the plunge at something radical like joining a dancing class or going parasailing.
It may take you months before you actually start to enjoy it. Hey, it may set you free straight away. Be patient with yourself. You just need to explore a part of The Universe you’ve ignored for so long in the name of being sensible and good and responsible. Like learning to ride a bicycle, you may not get it right straight away, but you’re getting out there (the proverbial there) and making an effort to get in sync with The Universe. You’re getting in sync with the way fun makes us change, makes us happy, and heals us. And teaches us to be stronger human beings.
Try to find things to do on your own too. If you have a partner, you may be tempted to only ever have fun when they’re around. As good and vital as this is for your relationship, it’s equally important, and in some ways, more important, to find that sweet spot alone. That thing you do for you and no one else.
We give a lot to those around us. It’s wonderful and beautiful.
Give to yourself too.
Find fun in everything you do—the mundane, the hard work, and the routine. Listen to your favorite podcast while doing chores or errands. Meditate while you do your workout at the gym. Listen to music.
Enjoy the journey of self-love too. Yes, it can be hard to face the lack of love we’ve had for ourselves for so many years, even our whole lives. Yes, it can mean a bit of shadow work, but it needs to be fun too. It needs to be exciting. It’s all part of the journey to getting there—to being in radical self-love mode. Falling in love with yourself is the dance of a beautiful, most perfect, life-altering romance. Maybe it’s not as outwardly noticeable to others as you don’t have a new beau on your arm, but that inward glow is bound to radiate somehow.
Daily Affirmation: I want to have more fun. I’m going to have more fun. I didn’t come to this planet just to learn hard lessons; I came to revel in the joy of being a human being. There is so much to explore. I learn best when I’m having fun, whether in work or play, whether in spiritual development or practical day-to-day. I was made for fun. I’m a master at discovering new ways to have fun.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Patriarchy Poison of Fundamentalist Religion

Post below is 18+ only:

I am branching out on the non-fiction front and I plan to write more articles on my blog about real-life issues, especially along the lines of self-love and feminism, and possibly, environmentalism. These are things I'm passionate about, and I believe that I've been given a chance to speak my truth and to have a voice in the world. My opinions may be strong at times, but they are just opinions. Yes, they may change over time, but I believe they are part of my evolution and growth as a human being. I hope they can help some people to change their ideas and find healing.

I have deconstructed out of a religion that messed me up in so many ways. One of the ways was in my sexuality and womanhood. I respect those who have a spiritual practice and believe in the divine, and I don't want to discount their beliefs in any way, but I do want people to be careful of what they are taught in religious communities. They can be deeply harmful. The points that I want to address in this blog post refer to the effect that fundamentalist Christianity had on me as a woman (in the past).

We were taught several things as Christian women. I'm going to list the ideas below in bold and deconstruct them:

1. A woman leaves her father and mother and joins or becomes one with her husband.

We were taught that we were under the authority of our parents until we got married. When we married our Christian man, then he became our authority. He was our support, the one we were to look to for guidance and the one who was to ultimately make all the decisions in the home. We became one with him and were now under his spiritual leadership and umbrella. The basic idea was that our lives would now become complete once we married our good Christian man. He became our "lord", our everything.

As "romantic" as this may seem, it breeds codependency big time. Instead of teaching young women to become financially independent and to develop their own sense of self and autonomy, we're basically taught that we need our parents to tell us what to do and straight after that, we need a man to tell us what to do and make decisions for us. He becomes our "lord", our everything, instead of us learning to find ourselves as well-rounded and happy adults.

So, basically you become dependent on this man and when he leaves you, you're pretty much in deep trouble.

It also creates an imbalance in the marriage, where it's no longer a partnership of equal, adult, mature human beings, but an authoritarian hierarchy where the man is in charge and the woman must listen.

2. A woman is to submit to her husband and respect him. That's her wifely duty and Christian duty to God. Even if she doesn't agree with him, she must submit with gentleness and reverence.

As "beautiful" and "godly" as this may sound, it's also deeply flawed and dangerous. Sure, it's good to respect your partner, but when that respect is required of you, it's very different and scary. Respect is rather a mutual thing that both partners should enjoy from each other - something that comes from friendship and partnership, not subservience.

What happened in my marriage is that, in order to be this good Christian wife, I lost myself in the relationship. I gave up many of my needs and wants to make him happy. Or if I did put my needs first I felt so guilty about it. At first, I felt really good about my "goodness". Well, let's say I felt really good about my behaviour throughout most of the marriage. I felt good about being sacrificially kind toward him. But in the end, it didn't get me anywhere. He left me anyway. And, once I'd begun to heal from the divorce, I realized how much of my own power I'd given away to make him happy. How I'd bent over backwards for him oftentimes, at the expense of just saying no and taking time for myself. Yes, I fully blame myself. I gave my power away. But my actions were directly related to how I'd been taught in my religion to act as a woman.

What this idea also pushes is that women end up accepting abuse in the name of submission and "reverence". Then the woman can't get out of the relationship because she's supposed to be this good wife, who loves unconditionally forever, no matter what.

3. Masturbation or self-pleasure is wrong and is a doorway to lust.

So, we were told we shouldn't pleasure ourselves because it leads to fantasy about other men and therefore lust, which ultimately will lead to adultery.

This is total codswallop.

On so many levels.

Firstly, not getting to know my own body, away from the relationship and even before the marriage, made it harder for me to navigate the sexual side of our relationship because I didn't know my likes and dislikes, at all. I was taught to be ashamed of my needs. I was a stranger to my own body.

Secondly, self-pleasure does not lead to lust. It enhances self-love and self-discovery. In fact, it actually reduces lust because your sexual needs are met.

Thirdly, it puts a strain on another person to meet all your sexual needs, which leads to...

4. As partners in a marriage, we must never say no to sex, unless it's to fast from food. 

Yes, this is actually in the bible. The only time we were allowed to say no to our partners is if we were fasting from food or very ill. Or upon doctor's orders, like after having a baby.

And because we were told that men had higher sex drives than us and only felt loved by their wives if they were given sex, we basically felt that we couldn't say no - that it was the worst thing we could ever do to our husbands. (It also makes a man think that he must only get sex to find love, but I strongly believe men are much more well-rounded than that.)

I was told at a lady's group once that I'd better give my husband sex whenever he wanted it, else he would eventually have affairs and leave me for someone else.

So, you'd better give your husband sex. All the time. Whenever he wants. If you don't, it's your fault if he cheats on you. (I was even asked by some Christian ladies after my divorce if I'd made my husband happy in bed. They basically implied that it was my fault he cheated on me.)

This idea needs some serious deconstruction.

For one, no one else is responsible for our sexual fulfilment. We are the ones who are responsible for our own bodies and pleasure. It is just wrong to place this burden on another human being. If your partner is not meeting your sexual needs, yes, it would be wise to communicate this problem in a loving way, but if they can't oblige for some reason, a compromise needs to be reached. If your partner has a lower sex drive than you, then you should find your own way of meeting those needs without comprising the integrity of the relationship. Cue in the self-pleasure thing. (Yes, you won't die without sex. Many single people survive, or actually thrive for years without sex.)

Sex is supposed to be a gift. It's something we offer our partners because we love them. It's not something that they should demand or that we owe them. And women thrive on the pleasure just as much as men.

For two, not being able to say no puts a damper on the sex drive. It makes sex an obligation and a means to keep someone happy. That's not a great way to fuel passionate love. Sure, if the couple agree mutually to work on that side of their relationship, to improve frequency - wonderful. But as soon as it becomes one partner's duty to keep the relationship going by being some type of sex-slave, something is seriously out of balance.

Thirdly, this whole mindset is fear-based. It creates a dynamic of insecurity and possessiveness in the relationship which doesn't enhance love.

Importantly, it teaches us to put our partners needs above our own, constantly. This is very unhealthy for a person's well-being and a relationship. It will eventually lead to resentment or dis-empowerment.

I remember how I always felt like I couldn't go to sleep without my partner in case he wanted sex that night. When he used to stay up really late at one stage, it was exhausting. I could never just relax in bed at night. It was always my wifely duty to wait up for him, just in case. Eventually, it became too exhausting to live like this.

And lastly, it made us think that we had to go with whatever our partner wanted in bed. This is a scary thing and can lead to abusive situations where a woman accepts things that she doesn't enjoy. That doesn't enhance the relationship and leads to resentment. It also weakens the woman and makes her unable to express her needs and say no. It enables men to always dominate and encourages narcissism and abuse.

Patriarchy is often a subtle thing. Be careful if your religion teaches things that dis-empower women, wrapping it up in flowery spiritual language and self-sacrificial urgings which can appeal to people who have a yearning to be good and faithful to their faith. When women are dis-empowered, men suffer too. Relationships suffer and so do families and communities. Women and men are equal. Yes, we are different and we should embrace those differences, but in a relationship, we should be equal partners who love and respect each other - individuals who are entitled to say no and entitled to time out and space and being selfish sometimes.

Friday, April 6, 2018

One of the Main Reasons I Don't Write Erotic Romance Anymore & Was Never Really Good at It

18+ only. Please don't proceed further if you're under 18.

I want to share something that I deem very important for the well-being of the females on this planet. What I write below may not resonate with you, and that's fine. I write this to help people and in no way to judge anyone else and the path that works for them. Everyone is an individual and has their own story, and that's what's so beautiful about being on this big blue and green orb - we get to learn from each other and learn to be tolerant with each other.

Something happened after the sexual revolution of the 60s - women were liberated. And men. Women were suddenly allowed to enjoy sex. And explore their sexuality. What a wonderful thing!

Then pornography happened (or maybe it had always been there). I don't know exactly when pornography started up, but I suppose it grew more with the advent of the internet. Before it was just those magazines teen boys used to slot under their mattresses. Now it's full-on videos of the act. People got access to finding out about sex without having to read dry literature or ask their elders (blush, blush). Soon after e-books came out. Erotic romance was written and published, and read, long before Fifty Shades of Grey caught the world alight.

I'm not a fan of pornography and will give my reasons below. But with regards to erotic romance, there is much good in it. I find romance is pure feminism. It shows us ladies that we are meant to be loved, pampered, and pleasured. We are important and we don't just exist for the purpose of our husbands' sexual pleasure. We are to be honoured and pleasured too. Nor are we here just to propagate the human race. Erotic romance can put a woman in the mood and can show her what a good lover is all about. But...

I used to hate reading it sometimes because it made me feel like such a failure as a woman. I always struggled with multiple orgasms, and didn't really like a lot of the things that instantly worked for other women. It was made out to me by the books and my partner that there was something inherently wrong with me. When I took up writing erotic romance books (under a pseudonym), more to please him than myself, although I was curious about the genre, I tried to bring some realism into them. That backfired. My books didn't sell well at all. I struggled so much to write the genre. It was like wading through thick vegetable soup. I wasn't idealistic enough. And seeing it was a reflection of my real life, I wasn't sexy enough. I was just poop as a woman. Because our womanhood is totally based on how sexually acquiescent we are. (Sarcasm siren going off, big time.)

But when my relationship fell apart, a seed got planted in my psyche that maybe I wasn't the problem after all. That maybe it had to do with unrealistic expectations.

And since then I've read and heard of several things about the dangers of pornography. It's not like I've actively gone looking for this info, although at times I've tried. It's just popped up, as though my eyes have been opened and as though The Universe wants to assure me that I am wonderfully created and good enough just as I am.

Pornography is not based on real relationships and real sexuality; it's done according to a standard system, and the women are chosen according to a certain look (not just in their shape but also in their more intimate visuals). A lot of the time, these women hate their jobs and do it for the money and not for pleasure. It often objectifies women, revealing them as merely objects of pleasure and not human beings with moods and different tastes. (I'm sure it does the same for men but that's not what this article is about.) It shows seamless orgasms, without any issues, and need for patience and communication, and taking time to discover your partner. And MOST OF ALL, it doesn't represent the sexual tastes of the whole population.

And I'm afraid to admit that erotic romance sometimes does this too. Yes, it shows things from a woman's POV, how she gets pleasured. It helps us ladies know that we do deserve pleasure and a good man to give that to us. But it also often shows women who always have multiple orgasms, always orgasm (and in a violent, life-changing way every time), and always have every single need and desire met perfectly with every sexual encounter they have with their partners.

This sets up the stage for very unrealistic expectations.

But it's fantasy, you say.

Sure, it's fantasy, and if you can just see it that way and not let it influence your own relationship with your partner or with yourself as a human being, great, and good for you. But if it in any way makes you feel unworthy and inadequate as a woman, there is something intrinsically harmful about it for you. And if it makes your partner unhappy with you and messes up your relationship, because they have unrealistic expectations of you, then it's not healing womankind at all.

Today, I heard a podcast of an interview with feminist and sexuality educationalist, Melissa Fabello http://www.melissafabello.com/ https://summerinnanen.com/117/

The biggest thing I got out of the podcast was that not all women like multiple orgasms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sexual_response_cycle) and not all of them have bigger-than-life experiences when they orgasm - for some it's just a simple feeling of satisfaction. Also, every one likes different things and it doesn't make you a bad or un-sexy person because you don't like certain things. It's not like your body is deliberately choosing to spite your partner. Sometimes, in erotic romance, the women seem to like everything. Every single thing. And the partners seem to instinctively know what they like without asking. I'm not criticizing the authors as you can't write a sex scene with stumbling and with a woman saying, "No, please don't do that. It's not nice." Because that wouldn't be very swoon-worthy to read. But hey, it would be really nice if someone could write a book like that one day - how a relationship actually wasn't perfect in the beginning, but the couple learned to communicate and work with mutual pleasure in a loving, patient, and understanding way. To me that would be the most romantic erotic romance ever!

That said, there are many amazing, beautiful, touching erotic romances that I read in my day job which I wouldn't want to change at all. I just want women to learn more about themselves and educate themselves so they are more able to love themselves and have healthy relationships with their partners. Melissa recommends this book, which I'm quite keen on reading. I can't vouch for it. https://www.amazon.com/Come-You-Are-Surprising-Transform

I'd love to hear your comments.