My Author Rebranding: Navigating the Jungles of Change

Happy 2017! I haven’t posted here in ages, but now that a new year and new wave of energy has arrived, it’s time to get this blog active again.

I’ve been going through the process of rebranding my author name for some time now. I mentioned this on my author Facebook page, Twitter, and Youtube channel (you can check out the video here), but I haven’t yet done a blog post to officially make the change, so here it is: After much thought, I’ve decided to switch genres.

Knowing Myself as an Author

In case you can’t tell, I’ve had a bit of an identity crisis as an author. All you have to do is look at this blog. Do I write fiction? Am I a self-help author? A lifestyle blogger? I have a huge spectrum of interests that I’m passionate about, and it’s taken a few years to start making sense of my vision for my career and life.

When I first started writing, I didn’t have any ideas about what sort of writer I’d be. I wasn’t even aware of genre. I knew that some stories were about murder or monsters and others were about high-school romance, but I knew nothing about author branding. I therefore had no plan for my career. I was just writing my book because I loved the story, and when it was revealed to me that I’d written a contemporary romance, I thought, great! Romance is a top-selling genre.

What I didn’t realize was that I’d be expected to continue writing contemporary romance, and if I wanted to write my other stories, I’d have to start over with a new pen name. I didn’t like that. Trying to build a following on social media is hard. As I went through the process of learning about the industry, I began to realize I might have made a mistake.

My main goal had always been to focus on subjects that were closest to my heart: the spirit world, the afterlife, aliens, alternate dimensions, space travel, time travel, monsters, and so on. I like the big stuff. The crazy stuff. Stories that keep you thinking after they end. So when I lost my book deal, I thought it could be a good time to change direction.

My New Genre: What the Hell is It?

I haven’t faced the daunting task of trying to write a blurb about the series I’m working on now, which follows a group of survivors through the apocalypse and beyond. I’m calling it a fantasy with elements of science fiction and romance. It has some typical apocalyptic juiciness you would expect from such a story. At its core, it’s really about an intense connection between a group of people who experience the unimaginable together. They slowly put together a shocking bigger picture that continues to grow from there.

I talk a little bit more about it here.

The Law of Attraction and Happiness with Writing

I’m starting to accept that I’m a slow writer. I took seven years working on my first book. Did I end up with something I’m proud of? Yes. But at that rate, I’m only going to complete a few more books before death. I’m working on speeding up, but I also need to make this the priority in my life if I want to live the dream.

Then again, I’m already living the dream in some way. I love my characters. I love the adventures they experience and how those experiences make them grow and change as people. I love watching them learn. I enjoy witnessing them go through joy, grief, falling in love, or sometimes, even dying. Not every writer is blessed enough to enjoy the experience at the level I do. So while I haven’t found the full dream in life yet, I still feel grateful.

What the Future Holds

I hope to get a solid draft of book one within a few months. I’m not quite ready to reveal the title yet, but I’m getting there. I’m going to be giving it my full effort. Then, maybe some beta readers. I’m glad to be getting involved with the writer community again. I’m navigating the jungles of change, and I’m becoming the person I was meant to be.

To my future readers: I love you. Please exist. Please find me. Please let me provide you with stories you’ll enjoy. Thank you.

Happy 2017 everyone!

Andi

Self-Care Tips: Bouncing Back After a Breakdown

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or mental-health professional. Just another human who struggles with this stuff. I understand what it’s like to read advice that doesn’t work for you. I never want anyone to feel like I’m underestimating the seriousness of depression or other disorders. If you’re in a crisis and need help now, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. And just in case it isn’t obvious from the subject matter, TRIGGER WARNING.


Always keeping the faith. Always staying strong. Sometimes failing to “stay strong” and ending up with scars to show for it. I watch as my struggles hurt the people around me. I ache as those I love deal with problems of their own. It all gets tiring.

I could write a million blogs on how to stay positive, but this is about what to do in the aftermath of a time you weren’t able to. It doesn’t matter if one massive thing set you off or if it was a series of small incidents over a period of time. Upping your self-care game is the way to start feeling better and getting back on track ASAP.

 Recovery Tips: Self-Care is Ointment for Your Tired Brain

  1. Handling the Basic Elements of Life

It’s good to focus on physical things if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to make sense of your situation. Water. Bathing and oral hygiene. Food. Fresh air. Sunlight. Exercise if you can. Work if you’re currently capable. The things you have to do. If you’re high strung like me, you probably get cracked out on adrenal hormones after any sort of meltdown and have the tendency to under eat. Other people devour their feelings. Whatever your tendency, just focus on getting nutritionally dense meals and plenty of fluids.

  1. Accepting Your Mistakes

No matter what kind of panic attack, episode, or negative experience you had, it’s safe to say it worsened your mood, and your current outlook likely doesn’t represent reality. It can help to logically work through how your view might be skewed by your emotions.

For example, when I’m struggling, I often end up feeling deep shame for making emotional posts on social media. I think that everyone is looking at me with disgust. And maybe some people are. I lose followers every time I post that I’m struggling, and yes, it does hurt. But screw it. I don’t want unsupportive people following me anyway. I refuse to feel shame for being human, and you shouldn’t either. Let people hate. Let them unfollow. Delete your upset posts if you feel you should, but don’t let them weigh on your soul.

The reality is that most people don’t care about what other people do or say, and even when they are upset by something, they’re often quick to forget. Look how quickly people forget about terrible occurrences like mass shootings. People will talk about something for days, then something new happens, and the first thing is almost completely forgotten. If people have such a short attention span that they easily move on from horrific, life-altering incidents, how long do you think they’ll remember your silly social-media rant? Life is hard. It’s understandable if you overreact sometimes. It’s okay.

The same goes for any other minor “mistakes” you made during your episode. Maybe it’s something as simple as forgetting plans with a friend because you were crying and lost in panic attacks all day. It happens. Apologize and move on rather than beating yourself up.

  1. Meditation, Prayer, or Mental Focus

I consider prayer one of the basic foundations of life, but not everyone shares my spiritual beliefs, and that’s okay. I’m not here to tell you what to believe. For me, giving it up to God is a powerful act. I wouldn’t be alive today without the love and guidance he offers me. That said, I think you can get a lot of the same benefits from releasing your struggles to the universe in some way.

If prayer isn’t your thing, consider writing in a journal as a way to release your pain. Let it all out. Get as nasty as you want. You don’t have to show it to anyone, but it’s a good idea to keep it around, at least for a little while. Examining it when you’re feeling better could provide you a window into the workings of your mind.

  1. Viewing the Setback as a Tool

Another way to help yourself accept what happened is by seeing if you can learn something from it. A setback can crack your psyche in two and allowed a deeper view within. Sometimes we don’t even realize what’s really bothering us. I didn’t—not until I began working with EFT and trying to manifest positive things with the law of attraction. When I started paying attention to my thoughts, it awakened something inside of me. This has only continued to unfold over the years, and I’ve found that my self-awareness is heightened even more after a major panic attack or breakdown. It’s a good time to be brave and dig deep. Understanding your triggers is the key to healing as many of them as possible.

  1. Creating a New Plan for Progress

Okay, at this point you’ve made sure that your basic needs are taken care of, forgiven yourself for any big mistakes you made during your episode, connected to God/your higher self through journaling or prayer, and taken an honest look at your triggers. Hopefully, you’re feeling a little more empowered, but if not, that’s okay. Brain chemistry is complex, and you might be unable to feel better at this time. Don’t beat yourself up about that, either.

Now is a good time to start coming up with a plan to feel better. I can’t give you an exact plan. I’m a writer, not a doctor or a therapist. People need so many different things. Your plan might be as simple as adding more exercise into your regimen or as complex as visiting your doctor to have a variety of medications adjusted. I’m not here to tell you what to do, but there is one thing I feel safe recommending to literally everyone: EFT.

EFT has helped me more than any other form of therapy. I’ve been working with it since my twenties, and it has increased my self-awareness by about a hundred times. It’s so powerful it’s mind blowing. The other day, I felt myself begin to go into a panic attack, and I was able to sort out my emotions and release all my negative energy after only 10-15 minutes of EFT.

It takes dedication, practice, and experimentation to learn about EFT and figure out how it can work for you, but it’s worth it. Please trust me—this practice is amazing. There is a lot of promising research about it too. One study showed that it can significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as reducing the severity of anxiety and depression. The best part is that it’s free!

Moving Forward: Doing the Best I Can

I decided a while ago that I was no longer going to try to be perfect. I’ve accepted that there are some limiting factors in my life, such as chronic pain, but I don’t want to let them stop me. It’s hard to accept, but there are shitty, awful people in this world, and I refuse to let them stop me either. I’m still working toward my dreams every day, and I hope all of you will continue to as well.

Thanks for reading! Please be sure to follow this blog and subscribe to my new Youtube channel!

Happy Birthday to Me: AKA, My Official “Separating from My Publisher” Post

Monday is my thirty-fourth birthday, and on paper, I’ve accomplished nothing.

Actually, if we’re being technical, I’m going in reverse. I once had a book deal. I once had a cool apartment in Denver. I once had a plan for my life that looked different from what is currently happening. To quote one of my favorite romantic comedies: I am “Benjamin Buttoning.” And you know what? I’m okay with it. Sometimes you have to back up if you want to get on the right path again.

How Book Deals Disappear: What Happened with GMMG

As some of you might already know, my publisher, Georgia McBride Media Group (GMMG), who owns both Month9Books and Swoon Romance, dropped many of their authors recently. There was a lot of scandalous craziness going on with the situation, but I don’t see much point in bathing myself in that negativity any longer. Other people can investigate if they want to, and if you’re interested in learning more about what happened, here is an article. I’ll just say that it wasn’t working out anyway, and I’m happy to be able to start over with self-publishing.

I should have known that I was always meant to be an indie author. I want the freedom to release books on my own schedule, with my own covers, set my own prices, do sales/giveaways when I want, etc. And most of all, I want access to my sales. I still have no idea how many books I sold. I’d guess it isn’t many, but still, I’d like to know. I don’t do well with being kept in the dark about things, and I’m pleased that I’ll never have to deal with that again.

Still, I’m not bitter. It’s hard to shift your perspective when you had hoped something would be your “big break,” but it can be done. This experience gave me a place in the writing world. I can walk away and wish everyone involved the best.

What Happens Next: The Future Feels Much Brighter

I have to sign a bunch of paperwork to get the rights to my book returned to me. That paperwork will be taken care of within a week or two. As soon as GMMG stops selling the book and takes it down from Amazon, I’ll be free to self-publish. So while the book is going to be temporarily unavailable, it will return.

The sequel, Edge of the Permanent Always, is coming soon!

I have another new book that I might release first, but I’m keeping quiet about it for now, because it might need a bit more work. It’s with a beta reader at the moment.

I have tons of stuff going for my other pen name, too! Aside from my epic supernatural horror love story, which will probably be in-progress for a while, I’m working on a new comedy-horror that I’m really excited about. I had no idea I would ever write anything like this, but I’m loving it!

In Conclusion: My Thoughts on My Birthday

So yes … I’m about to turn thirty-four, no longer a published author, and on paper, I’ve accomplished nothing. I also have far more freedom and opportunity than a lot of people my age, and for that I’m very grateful. I’m like a thousand high-quality parts that are just sitting on the ground in a big room waiting to be assembled. I’m not sure what this fully formed me will look like or if I’ll even live long enough to see her in the mirror. But I will keep working on building myself. I refuse to let people bring me down.

I want to thank everyone who has offered me love, support, and friendship during this rough time—especially my fellow authors. Getting closer to a lot of you guys was the best part of this entire experience. I feel blessed to be part of such a supportive community.

Stay tuned for more!

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Yummy Whole-food Carrot Tomato Soup with Greens

Food represents many things for me. It’s a facet of my spirituality. A reason to always be thankful. After struggling for years with food allergies, health issues, and also an eating disorder, I appreciate food now more than ever. Do you know what it’s like to enjoy a slice of pizza for the first time in over three years? Recovery is a beautiful thing.

My food-related Instagram posts were getting a lot of attention, so I figured I might put up a few recipes from Edge of Something More and see how they perform. These aren’t exact recipes but rather vegetarian meals that would regularly be at the homestead. I’m not vegetarian, but I go days or even weeks without meat sometimes. I will share more of the meals I come up with if you guys like them.

Soup Feeds the Body and Soul

A bowl of soup is good for the soul, especially with a nice grill-cheese sandwich! This soup is rich with three of the foods I base my diet around: tomatoes, carrots, and leafy greens. I’ve found that these offer the most value for your dollar. They are cheap, healthy, gluten free, easy to stock up on, and for me, all of that stuff is important.

  • A ten-year nutritional study from the Netherlands found that regularly eating carrots can reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • With beta-carotene, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals, kale really helps me fight back against some of my health problems.
  • Tomatoes are known for having an abundance of lycopene. Studies have found that lycopene can help protect the body from osteoporosis.

This Isn’t Really a Recipe (LOL, Sorry)

I wish I could give you guys an exact recipe, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I don’t measure anything. I use approximately three to ninety-five sprinkles of each spice, depending on the mood and what I’m making. If I’m cooking for more than just me, I throw in more handfuls of ingredients. I think I’ve burned out the spice-receiving centers of my tongue and brain by abusing them so much, but people always tell me my food is flavorful. For this recipe, I recommend you add three to four pinches of everything, taste it, and then explore from there.

soupsIngredients:

  • Vegetable broth
  • Kale
  • Frozen spinach
  • Frozen green beans
  • Carrots
  • Fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce

Spices:

  • Onion
  • Garlic powder
  • Sea salt
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Black pepper

Making the Soup

I start with equal parts water and vegetable broth. I’d say about two cups each, which makes about three to four servings. You can use pure broth if you want to, but I find it’s unnecessary and adds to the expense.I usually chop about a cup of carrots. You can do more or less. Same with the kale. I’d say to go for about three leafs per person you want to serve. I really like greens, so I add a lot of frozen spinach too.

Put all of the above in your pot along with the fire-roasted tomatoes (I usually do two big spoonfuls) and get it simmering. I add sea salt, garlic/onion black pepper, and some of the other spices at this point too. I keep adding throughout the entire cooking process. Whatever feels natural. Taste as you go. Add sea salt slowly and always err on the side of adding less, but don’t worry, you can always water it down some if it gets too salty. You might want to add more water at some point anyway, because the leftovers will thicken in the fridge.

At this point, I brown my frozen green beans with some onion on the cast iron before adding them in. You don’t have to do this, but it adds flavor.

Once you get everything in the pot, add tomato sauce until the broth is as thick as you would like. I usually add 3-4 spoonfuls, but it just depends.I usually let it simmer for about twenty minutes or so after that. You’ll be able to tell when all the ingredients are soft and tender.

Make it Your Own

You can do whatever you want with this soup. If you don’t like onions, leave them out or use the powder instead. Likewise, you might want to chop fresh garlic rather than using the powder. You can switch out any of the veggies for other options or even add some chicken, pasta, or rice if you like. There are very few rules in cooking. If not for thinking outside the box, I’d never have come up with some of my favorite meals, like enchilada oatmeal or tomato curry with mashed potatoes. Food provides us with an opportunity to be creative, so relax, have fun, and see what you come up with.

 

 

 

 

When You Don’t Fit in: Thriving in a World You Feel Separate From

Maybe you look different. Maybe you live different. You’re a creature of a world all your own. This can be a great thing. Some people build their entire identities around it.

Not fitting in can also feel crappy. The outcasts, the loners, the people who put on fake smiles while they’re secretly grimacing at how frustrating it is to be so different from everyone around them—they all know this. Sometimes, the feeling only lasts a moment. Like when you’re the only person in a group discussion who disagrees with something. It can also be a lifelong thing. Or maybe feeling misunderstood by the people around you is a constant. You might even feel like you were born on the wrong planet.

Oh, I’m an INFJ—That’s Why I’m Weird

You can be blessed with close friends but still feel at odds with society in some way. That’s me. I’ve known for years I’m an INFJ, but it was only recently that I really started reading about what that meant. It’s the rarest personality type on the planet, apparently. I guess that makes sense.

Personality Page says:

“INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand.”

I like that there’s documentation of my complexity and all, but other personality types feel misunderstood too. There’s enough differences in the world that everyone feels that way sometimes. Whether you were “born on the wrong planet” or not, you’re meant to be here, and that’s important to know. Your presence will change the story of life on Earth. This is always true but especially if you make an effort to be remembered for your unique gifts.

Fully Utilize the Internet

This seems obvious since you’re online right now, but just in case it isn’t: take advantage of the web. No matter what you’re into or how you feel about any aspect of existence, someone out there is feeling the same. I’ve been on forums for long hair, colorful hair, cooking, skincare, health, dancing, unique/free spirituality, general exercise, arts and crafts, and of course, writing. I’ve met so many interesting friends this way.

If you really feel alone with your ideas, consider starting a blog so you can introduce your unique perspectives to the world. There might be others like you out there. Not everyone knows how to express themselves. If you can and feel the desire to, you should!

Relocate—with Realistic Expectations

Some people go out and search for a place that feels right for them. Edge of Something More is about a search like that. After living in three states, I don’t think I “belong” anywhere. Maybe I’ll feel different in the future, but I kind of doubt it. I’ve had happy experiences many places. The world is beautiful all over. Traveling is always worth it, but making a permanent move is a different thing.

If you do relocate:

  • Know what you’re looking for and why. The more you have at stake, the more you want solid, dependable reasons for doing what you’re doing. Being in love with the local music scene or a nearby national park is dependable. Being in love with a girl you met online three days ago is less so, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it. Just look at what you have to gain versus what you have to lose, and then go with what feels right.
  • Don’t build the place up too much. An atmosphere more conducive to your landscape is a valuable thing, but it’s never good to expect more than a place can offer. Sometimes feelings change over time as well. The excitement of a new place wears off.
  • Don’t get dragged down by negativity. People can be harsh on places, so keep in mind that you might love what someone else hates.
  • Be serious about climate. If you’re like me and can’t deal with winter, a lot of locations are off the list. I didn’t realize this about myself until I had traveled quite a bit. The first snowy winter was exciting and fun. After that, not so much.

Live Your Way

I was okay until I reached kindergarten and people started demanding I get up at a certain time and do a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to do. I was depressed a lot of my life. Not only did I feel like a weirdo, but I also had a bunch of health problems. Somewhere in my twenties I figured out that living my way is my only chance of survival.

Don’t let society force you into a mold or a life plan that doesn’t work for you. There are all millions of lifestyles, and they all rock as long as you’re in alignment with your real self and not hurting anyone else.

Moments of Connection

Chances are that you do fit in and don’t realize it. At least in a lot of small ways. I try to notice those ways and point them out to myself. For example, I feel that connection to the world around me when:

  • Sharing humor. I love seeing the memes people make. Some of them are so awesome that it makes me love the human race once again.
  • Interacting with other writers. It’s such a huge part of me. Even the writers who get me the least still align with me more than a lot of the world.
  • Watching television. Connecting to other people in TV fandoms has always been fun for me. I plan on doing more TV recaps and rants on this and my other blog soon.
  • Talking about relationships. There are only so many different problems and situations. It’s easy to connect to people on the subjects of sex, love, and heartbreak.

Just be You

Never accept toxic relationships in the name of fitting in. People who put you down for being different don’t deserve your time or energy. Being unique is setting an example. I’ve been influenced by many brave individuals who set examples for me over the years, and I’m thankful.Those who clash with society help change it, so speak your mind and do what you want.

Writerly Wednesday: Sorry for Vanishing

Hi guys! This #WriterlyWednesday, I want to apologize for ignoring my blog.

A lot has been going on. I’m going hard at the third rewrite of my new romance, which now has a working title: Since Vientiane. This story has all the elements I love: travel, serendipity, hot chemistry, and plenty of color. I wanted to take some of my own experiences in Southeast Asia and twist them into something even better. It still has a long way to go, but it’s a solid book now, which is exciting!

I’ve been brainstorming a lot of new ideas I’m not sure how to get into just yet. This is a strange time in my life. Removing myself from the dating scene has been a valuable experience that has given me new perspectives. It’s a lot to process, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Processing, thinking, growing, praying, expanding, brainstorming–and working my ass off so I can build the life I want.

I hope to put out a lot of entertaining stuff for you guys, but the process is slow and frustrating. I have so many projects planned that I could work 24/7 for the next decade and still only put a small dent in what I want to do. And that’s just when it comes to the books.I also want to blog, not just to promote my books but to have the chance to help people in some small way.

You guys come here and read my blogs every single day, and that makes me happy. Thank you for your support. I hope you’ll hang in there and give me the chance to get back into this one day soon.

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Check me out on Goodreads

Get Edge of Something More, my first novel from Swoon Romance

The Loss of a Friend: Saying Goodbye to Frogger

Fifteen years ago, I walked into a friend’s house and spotted the tiniest, most beautiful gray-and-white kitten I had ever seen. He was a stray that had been abandoned on a local freeway. My friend’s mom stopped and rescued him—an act of kindness that ended up connecting me to one of the great loves of my life.
20150724_171915Frogger (full name: Frogger Friend) was always meant for me. It was obvious as soon as we met. He crawled up on my chest, purred, and looked right into my eyes. It was love at first sight. My friend told me he was a girl, and I never bothered to check myself, so for the first few months of his life, I went around calling him my “beautiful princess.” I even gave him a pink collar. Imagine my surprise when it was time to get him spayed, and I found out I actually had a little prince.

Once his gender-identity crisis was figured out, he became my boy. We moved through various homes and apartments together, and he was by my side through so much. I have struggled with depression and other serious health problems, and he provided support for me. Always in tune with my emotions, he would come to me when I was upset. Sometimes, something as simple as his paw on my leg would be enough to keep me going another day.

He did so many cute things that brought everyone who knew him joy. Running across the room and leaping into the piles of newspapers on the floor. Going crazy playing with his toys until he became “overwhelmed” and had to hide behind the living room curtains for a few minutes (he did this every time!). Sucking on his paw and making sweet

IMG_20150810_200657

Frogger had a way of looking into your soul.

little noises as he was falling asleep. Sitting and staring at me, sometimes for hours, as I worked at the computer. I never had another cat that would make unwavering eye contact like that. He loved being near me. I wouldn’t even have to be petting him. I could just turn and look at him, and he would begin purring.

There were gaps in our time together. In my late twenties, I had a difficult decision to make. I felt the intense desire to travel, which meant I would have to leave Frogger behind with my family. I spent five years away from home, experiencing many adventures and learning many lessons. Whenever I came home to visit, his eyes would light up, and he would purr. He never forgot me, even when I was away for over a year.

This last year, I decided to come home to California for good. When I arrived, Frogger was much thinner and weaker than he had been the last time I saw him. I promised him that for the rest of his life, I would be here. I wouldn’t be leaving him again.

We shared many beautiful moments during these last few months. He wasn’t the playful kitten he 20150807_131926once was, but he was still my kitten. After the vet told us there wasn’t any hope, all we could do was take him home and try to make the most of our time with him. As the end grew closer, he didn’t want to leave my side. Days were spent with him curled up beside me as I worked at my computer. Sometimes, he liked to rest his head on my mouse pad. Just to make sure I would remember to pet him. Of course I did.

Today, on February 13th at 2:10 PM, Frogger Friend took his final breath and then crossed over into God’s loving arms. I know he will be waiting for me when it’s my time to pass. Our souls have shared many existences, and we will be together again. I feel blessed to have known him and to continue to know and remember him throughout the rest of my days.

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RIP Frogger Friend 2000-2016

Writerly Wednesday: Letting People Read Your Sex Scenes

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, this #writerlywednesday I thought I’d talk about something that has been on my mind since I began writing: sex scenes.

I always knew that sex would be included in my writing. I like raw, emotional stories with both fantastical elements and a realistic edge. Even when I don’t show sex, my characters talk about it openly. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a part of the human experience. It’s the same with drugs. Or violence.

A simple truth about writing is that people are going to witness the stuff you think about. With sex scenes, you’re giving them a view into some small part of your erotic mind. Sure, I could sit down and piece together a scene that wasn’t at all based on my own desires. But what fun is that? Not that I’m an expert on writing arousing sex scenes or anything. I just figure if I’m turned on, someone else might be too.

That’s why it’s creepy to think about family members reading it.

There are a few routes you can take with this:

  • Conform your writing to a standard you feel comfortable sharing.
  • Write sex scenes, but tone them down as much as you can.
  • Adopt the life of a hermit and put out freakier sex scenes with each book.
  • Take the IDGAF approach. Write what you want. Get as freaky as you want. If it ever gets brought up, be willing to talk about it openly, because it’s your scene. You should be proud of it.

I’m pretty down with the IDGAF approach. Whether there’s anything “freaky” in Edge of Something More (my previously published book) is a matter of perspective. There’s what I would consider a normal amount of sex and sexual talk. My other books will probably have more. I’ve grown and matured a lot since I started working on this book many years ago.

I don’t think my parents have read much of my writing, but they know it includes this sort of content, and they don’t care. I am lucky to have a pretty laid-back, liberal family. No matter what, they are supportive of me working hard toward something I believe in. Plus, I was pretty wild when I was younger, so the fact that my stories show sex and drug use isn’t that much of a surprise to anyone.

In life, you have to do you. I’ll continue to write what I want and hope it finds its way into the hands of those who will enjoy it as much as I do. That’s all I really care about.

My Response to “5 Reasons Marriage Doesn’t Work Anymore”

By now, a lot of you have probably seen the viral article “5 Reasons Marriage Doesn’t Work Anymore” floating around social media. It was written by 29-year-old Anthony D’Ambrosio, who has a popular column in the Ashbury Park Press. D’Ambrosio is also a divorcee, and he seems to have little hope that marriage will ever work for the younger generation.

 

Here is the original article: http://www.12news.com/story/news/2015/12/31/sex-columnist-5-reasons-marriage-doesnt-work-anymore/78123994/

 

This whole thing rubbed me wrong. It’s clear that I’m far from the only person who felt this way. There have been numerous rebuttals, some of which are also going viral. After reading a few of those, I felt like I should write my own. I’m single, and I’ve never been married, but I have experienced a few long-term relationships that were like marriages, so I do relate. Also, as a romance author, I tend to think about human relationships a lot.

 

Before I go any further, I should point out that I too am unsure whether marriage is realistic in this day and age, or whether it’s ever been realistic in any age. I don’t place any value on getting married myself, at least not in the legal sense. I wanted to get married when I was younger, and looking back, I think it was only social conditioning that caused me to feel that way. Therefore, while I’m not closed off to the idea of marriage, I do agree with D’Ambrosio that for most people, a lifelong marriage isn’t realistic. I just disagree on the reasons why.

 

D’Ambrosio’s Five Points: My Rebuttal

 

I’m just going to go through the article and quote, and then respond to, the parts that I found annoying.

“I’ve spent the better part of the last three years trying to understand the dating scene again. Back when I met my ex-wife in 2004, things were just so different. Social media had yet to explode. I had this desire to ask her about her day simply because I didn’t know.”

 

 

That wasn’t one of his main points, but right off the bat, it irked me. No matter how much we might vent about our day on social media, people still go home and talk to their partners. This guy acts like people just come home and sit in silence because once you’ve mentioned something on social media, that’s it. You can never talk about it again. Sorry but that’s just not reality.

When something is really bothering me, I’ll vent about it on social media, then I’ll vent about it in real life, too. People still talk. Healthy, happy couples still talk. Unhappy, unhealthy couples have never communicated properly, and that was true long before social media.

 

Okay, now to the main points:

 

  1. “Sex becomes almost non-existent.”

I’m baffled by couples who neglect having sex, especially younger ones. We all desire physical connection, so how does cutting that off lead you to believe your marriage will be successful? It’s like telling someone you’ll take them out to a restaurant but they can’t order food.”

Uhhh… okay. Who are these couples who have just decided to stop having sex? I’m sure it can’t be denied that having children or being super busy can get in the way of your sex life, and chemistry and attraction can dry up between people for a number of reasons.  But D’Ambrosio seems to be implying that today’s young couples have made some sort of anti-sex pact, and I’ve never heard of such a thing.

 

If anything, people are more sexually free today than ever. Women are more open to discussing their desires, and there’s a lot less stigma about acting out whatever your kink might be. Look at the mainstream success of Fifty Shades of Gray. We liked it, and we weren’t afraid to show it.

It’s not just boredom that stops sex from happening. Everywhere you look, there’s pictures of men and women we know half naked — some look better than your husband or wife. So it becomes desirable. It’s in your face every single day and changes your mindset.”

Everywhere D’Ambrosio looks, he sees men and women he knows half naked? Interesting. I can’t even think of the last time I saw one of my friends half naked.

“It’s no wonder why insecurities loom so largely these days. You have to be perfect to keep someone attracted to you. Meanwhile, what your lover should really be attracted to is your heart. Maybe if you felt that connection beyond a physical level, would you realize a sexual attraction you’ve never felt before.”

I don’t think that’s true. I’ve dated a variety of men, and most of them haven’t expected physical perfection at all. If anything, it was the opposite. They thought I was beautiful in sweatpants and no makeup. Most people don’t look like movie stars in everyday life—not even movie stars. I don’t think that’s ever stopped anyone from getting it on.

I’m not saying there are never exceptions, just that out of all the issues we have in our society, I don’t see how a lack of desire for sex is one of them. When a couple stops having sex, it’s because something else is wrong. It seems D’Ambrosio is identifying a symptom, not a cause.

 

  1. “Finances cripple us.”

“Years ago, it didn’t cost upward of $200,000 for an education. It also didn’t cost $300,000-plus for a home.

The cost of living was very different than what it is now. You’d be naive to believe this stress doesn’t cause strain on marriages today.”

People also make more money today than they did decades ago. It’s all relative. If anything, wouldn’t harder financial times make people want to get—and stay—married? Things are easier if you have a partner that you trust to share finances with.

“You need to find a job to pay for student loans, a mortgage, utilities, living expenses and a baby.”

You are not required to take on loans you can’t afford, and you’re definitely not required to have a baby. If you can’t afford it, you probably shouldn’t. If you want a kid, awesome, but acknowledge that it’s your choice, and be aware that it’s expensive.

“This strain causes separation between us. It halts us from being able to live life. We’re too busy paying bills to enjoy our youth. Forget going to dinner, you have to pay the mortgage. You’ll have to skip out on an anniversary gift this year because those student loans are due at the end of the month. Vacations? Not happening.”

Once again, why did you get a mortgage you couldn’t afford?

Ugh. Officially annoyed. I should have just avoided this entire section, because the way people are about money really bugs me. Don’t do stuff if you can’t afford it. It’s that simple. You aren’t entitled to a house. You aren’t entitled to anything. And if you and your spouse are going to both agree to do stuff you can’t afford, don’t complain when things are stressful!

3) We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.

“You told your wife you made dinner reservations … through a text message.

Your husband had flowers delivered to your job … through an app on his phone.

You both searched for furnishings for your new home … on Pinterest.

There’s no physical connection attached to anything anymore.”

Here he lists out a bunch of stuff without saying why any of it is bad. Yeah, I text my friends. Yeah, I read their words instead of hearing their voices. So what? I’m also able to talk to them all day long while working. I’m also able to leave funny messages for them at night so they’ll smile and see them when they wake up in the morning. Because of texting, I’m available to communicate to the people who matter most to me—some of whom live states away.

“We’ve developed relationships with things, not each other. Ninety-five percent of the personal conversations you have on a daily basis occur through some type of technology. We’ve removed human emotion from our relationships, and we’ve replaced it colorful bubbles.”

Sorry but this is just wrong. I’ve shared very deep emotions and had wonderful conversations that brought me closer to people–all through text. Just because you don’t know how to pick up on emotion or express it using the written word doesn’t mean no one does.

“You want to know why your grandmother and grandfather just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary? Because they weren’t scrolling through Instagram worrying about what John ate for dinner. They weren’t on Facebook criticizing others. They weren’t on vacation sending Snapchats to their friends.”

Actually, that’s not even close to the reason. But you hate technology. We get it.

4) Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved.

“Social media, however, has given everyone an opportunity to be famous. Attention you couldn’t dream of getting unless you were celebrity is now a selfie away. Post a picture, and thousands of strangers will like it. Wear less clothing, and guess what? More likes.

It’s more than that though. What about the life you live? I see pictures of people decked out in designer clothes, posted up in some club with fancy drinks — People that I know are dead broke. But they portray themselves as successful because, well, they can. And they get this gratification from people who like and comment on their statuses or pictures.”

So, because the people you know are pathetic and narcissistic, that means social media is ruining everyone’s relationships? Come on D’Ambrosio. The majority of people are not like this, and you have to know that.

5) Social media just invited a few thousand people into bed with you.

“We’ve invited strangers into our homes and brought them on dates with us. We’ve shown them our wardrobe, drove with them in our cars, and we even showed them our bathing suits. Might as well pack them a suitcase, too.”

He once again made a point without demonstrating why this is a bad thing. I do agree that spending too much time photographing and posting can remove you from the moment. However, snapping a quick pic or two and then taking the five seconds it takes to upload to Instagram is not a big deal. Some people become addicted to social media, sure. But people can become addicted to anything. I don’t personally know anyone who has had their relationship end because of normal use of social media.

Why Marriage Doesn’t Work for Everyone Anymore: My Personal Opinion

Notice I said “for everyone.” Marriage obviously does work for plenty of people, so implying that it never works is just silly. I do, however, think the expectation of a lifelong marriage is unrealistic for many people, and viewing it as something that will happen for all of us one day if we just believe is problematic. A lot of marriages will eventually end, and there are obvious reasons for that. D’Ambrosio, in my opinion, missed most of them.

  1. No Stigma for Divorce

A lot of people in past generations stayed together simply because they felt they had to, not because their lives were a blissful paradise free of social media.

     2. No Stigma for Staying Single

These days, it’s possible to live a full and happy life, and even have an active sex life, without ever being romantically involved with anyone. Sure, a few people might think you’re weird, but who cares?

     3. Everyone is Career Driven

Those with careers can of course get married, but when people are financially self-sufficient and passionate about what they do, their lives are full and they don’t need a partner to help them avoid boredom or provide them with money. They might still want a partner, but not needing one makes a big difference.

    4. Drug and Mental Health Problems

Most people I know, myself included, have battled with addiction or mental-health issues at one point or another. It’s difficult to be in love when someone is dealing with stuff like that, and sadly, a lot of relationships end up destroyed. I’ve personally lost someone I once loved very much due to these issues.

     5. A Clashing of Cultures

In the United States, we have many different cultures. Two people in the same neighborhood can be raised differently and have two opposing views on how life should be. We all have our own thoughts on everything, from God to food to what to watch on TV. You don’t have to be exactly the same as your partner, but marriage is hard enough without one of you being a militant atheist and the other being a Christian. With so many different types of people and no set values that we all share, it’s hard to find a match.

     6. People are just Assholes

I wish we could be honest about this. A lot of people just suck. They’re dumb, they’re mean, they’re selfish, and they make poor choices. Maybe they’ll even hit you or sexually abuse you. A lot of us have been hurt one too many times, and we’re backing away from the idea of marriage because we don’t want to have to go through it again.

     7. No Respect for Sex

Whether you think casual sex is right or wrong, you can’t deny that getting it is pretty easy if your standards are low enough. In a world of instant Tinder dates, webcam girls, and thousands upon thousands of hours of free porn, there isn’t much reason to leave the house—let alone commit to someone for life.

And maybe that’s okay. Maybe instead of spending so much time pondering why marriage isn’t working for a lot of people these days, we should take a step back and ask ourselves why we want it to. What good is it doing us to have all these people trying to get and stay married when it’s so damn hard? What’s the point?

I’m not saying there isn’t a point. Just that we should ponder it for ourselves rather than blindly accepting the idea that marriage is simply something you do. It isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Rather than feeling pressured, take some time to consider what’s driving you to want marriage in the first place. It might give you some perspective that will help you if you ever do get married.

D’Ambrosio did say one thing I agreed with:

“Marriage is sacred. It is the most beautiful sacrament and has tremendous promise for those fortunate enough to experience it. Divorced or not, I am a believer in true love and building a beautiful life with someone.”

 

Despite everything I said here today, I do feel that marriage is sacred. I’m really enjoying my time as a single person, but if I meet a nice man one day, and we find our groove together, I’m at peace with being a wife, too. If I ever say “yes” to a proposal, I’m going to mean it from the depths of my heart–otherwise, I won’t be afraid to say no. We now live in a world where people have options, and that’s a beautiful thing.