A New Normal

I feel like I have heard this term more and more lately as I have gotten older. It seems to pop up at every milestone in life. Get married, a new normal. Have kids, a new normal. Each child’s milestone, a new normal. Then there are the new normals that happen unexpectedly. Loved one passes away results in a new normal. Tragic accident which changes your life creates a new normal. All of these moments in our lives all have one thing in common. They all force us into a different way of doing things, but does that make it normal?

What about anything anyone does is normal? What makes the aftermath of this x-factor normal? Life after a more common rite of passage I can see being shuffled in with what society constitutes as normal, but what categorizes the subsequent life we must lead following a tragedy? Who deems the shift in our lifestyles as meeting some societal standard of the status quo?sticker375x360-u2

What follows after an event literally rocks your world and forces you to continue in a different manner than you were before would never be considered normal to the one experiencing it, but somehow, they will follow along to try and make it morph into what the world around them expects to see.

I say, screw it. Nothing about life is normal. Nothing about our existence on this planet is normal. If it were, we’d all be clones without a mind of our own. In all of God’s infinite wisdom, he gave us each our on willpower, thus our own minds, our own feelings and intelligence. I refuse to believe that any response we may have to any life altering scenario could be constituted as normal.

How about instead of trying to classify a reaction, we just support each other’s coping mechanisms and lend a hand to those in need? How about instead of expecting someone to reach some made up standard following such an event, we allow them to reach a place in their lives where they again feel like themselves albeit wiser from the experience?

Normal is such a relative, fake word, devoid of real meaning. Maybe the phrase should just be a new chapter in life, but I guess that is just the author in me.

Wake Up Call

I don’t even know what to call this post, so I’m writing it first and naming it second. I’ve been so caught up recently in everything going on. Between work, school, and just the routine of every day, I almost feel like I am looking in on what is going on around me rather than living the moment for all it’s worth. I’m not sure when it started, but I feel like I’ve been rushing everything.

I’ve had very busy work weeks and weekends recently which is why I forced myself to take a step back from social media this past weekend. I’m starting to realize when each day of work starts, or each event comes around, I am already wishing it was the moment after. It’s not that I don’t want to be there or doing whatever it is I am doing, I’m just already thinking of the next thing. Instead of being in that moment, I’m wishing for the next. 

I’m not sure why I felt the need to gut this out, but I think I will use it as my wake up call. If I’ve learned anything in the last year, it is that life is too short to be caught up in the future. Never has anyone one ever promised the next moment, the only one I have is right now.

I guess this post is my way of checking myself. I think we could all use a little rattle if we ever feel too comfortable in our current state of being. Take it form me, friends, pay attention to the present. Consider this your wake up call.

How to Handle Bad Reviews

Have you ever tried something that just didn’t go the way you had hoped and turned into a bad experience? Sometimes we can ignore them, others we feel propelled to let others know about our horrible encounters. We all come across these events in our lives not matter the person, place, or thing of focus. Bad customer service; blast them on social media. Malfunctioning product; unpleasant reviews on company website. Read a lackluster novel; ream the author out on GoodReads.bad-reviews-online-yelp

There is no easy way to handle harsh reviews, but I have come up with a few steps to help my fellow providers of any product or service to come out stronger after such abuse. Before we begin, I want to be clear that there is a very real difference between constructive criticism and plain rude comments. Constructive criticism is exactly that, a positive offering from a consumer to help strengthen the seller’s position within any market. Malicious reviews do not fall in this category, and sometimes can be a little hard to swallow. This is where my focus will fall because constructive criticism is part of everyday life, so we should be acclimated to these types of comments whereas verbal lashings for most are a bit further and farther in between.

*Disclaimer: I am an author, so this will be geared more towards my colleagues, but all suppliers are welcomed to cite whatever piece they find valuable from this post.

1. Read the comments with an open mind.

Do not attempt to read reviews or listen to customers with a turbulent or distracted mind. Whatever is going on in another part of your life, whatever has previously upset you either work related or otherwise, forget about it for all of the amount time it is going to take you to complete this process before reading/hearing any sort of cruel negative feedback. Clear your mind, steel it if you are new to this process, and continue to the next step.

2. Don’t take it personal.

Remember the first step. Read the comments with an open mind and don’t take it personal. I of all people know that this is hard to do especially when a reviewer is literally dragging your name through the mud, but we have to remember that to them whatever product or service they were provided with did not meet expectations and therefore has let them down. This can be heightened dramatically as the cost to the consumer is higher. No matter what the reviewer has said, don’t take it personally, and continue on.

3. Find the constructive pieces.

Unless the customer is literally just throwing profanities and cursing your very existence, during these times of frustration, we all just want our voices heard. Again, if the reviewer is just lamenting that you occupy space on this planet, it is best just to ignore it and/or advise them to provide feedback at such a time that it can contain constructive points. If the consumer is frustrated, but still explaining why pertaining to the product, then there is hope for something constructive and possibly a lesson to be learned. It may be hard to sieve through some of the not so helpful points, but again, remember our previous steps and focus on what can be helpful advice.

4. Do not respond.

This may be equally hard to do, but specifically to my fellow authors, do not respond! Unless you are on the phone or in person with the disgruntled customer, do not respond. List out the constructive points as you read the statements with an open mind. Even if you think you have the end-all-be-all comeback, do not respond. This is about learning to find what is helpful to better yourself in the future.

Revert to the previous step if you are face to face with an unhappy consumer: advise them to provide feedback at such a time that it can contain constructive points, and if it does contain such points, acknowledge them, but do not offer excuses or explanations. Just listen and give their concerns merit. Do not take anything said to you to heart. Remember, it isn’t personal. They just want to be heard.

5. Remember that you are not perfect.

No one on this planet is perfect. We all perform the same mundane tasks every day between bathroom usage and clothing rituals. You will never make everyone happy no matter the product or service you provide, but we can at least continue to understand that there is always room for growth and use these scenarios to our advantage. If a reviewer says that your story lacks dialog, try to add more in your next. If a customer states that your product brakes too easily at this certain piece, evaluate their concern and strive to make it better. We can take these moments of criticism and strive to make ourselves. Not perfect, but better.

6. Grow.

We are all human, and life is a continuous saga of learning lessons. Be the bigger person, and better yourself from the experience. Take what you can from each lesson, and let the rest go. (Not to sound too “Frozen”-y.) Everything we do, we can get better with practice and determination. Never give up, just accept this new challenge and rise above it.

My husband will look at me at times and ask how I can stand to see some ill-intended comments. My answer is always that I take them and choose to grow from them. I refuse to let it get me down because then what does that accomplish. We all have too choose to be better, to strive for more, and with each new project, that is exactly what I do. In a way, I guess I am breaking one of my own rules with this post, but to all who have provided feedback on any of my works, I thank you for helping me reach for higher heights, and I will always strive for greater.

Let me know of any tips that I may have left out, or different ways you may cope with such comments. If you just need a listening ear, I am here for that also!

Last Chance for the Alyeska Giveaway!

Today is the last day! If you haven’t received your free e-book copy of Alyeska yet, here’s how you can take advantage of this giveaway: click the below link to “buy” your e-book copy on Amazon, and enjoy! It’s that easy.

And hopefully by the time you have finished Alyeska, spring will finally be upon us!

All I ask, my dear fellow readers, is to rate and review Alyeska as you wish.

Thank you to every single one of you for the constant support, and I hope you enjoy a romance nestled in the mountains of Alyeska, Alaska.alyeskacover

Grab your copy here! – (Amazon link)

The Alyeska Ski Resort and Spa near Anchorage, Alaska is known for its beautiful mountains, relaxing environment, and delicious dining, but for Kayleigh Wilson, a trip to the frozen tundra was meant to offer so much more. After a past full of pain, she lived her life based on how little she had to feel, so when her brother offered a weekend trip to the resort where no one even knew her name, she jumped at the opportunity. For Kayleigh, this trip was exactly what she needed to put herself back in the game of dating and romance, but she never planned on meeting a man who could actually alleviate her past and allow her to experience every emotion she had shut off so long ago. Benjamin Thomas, the man who awakens her heart from hibernation, is full of his own pain, but in his mind, some secrets are better left unshared. As Kayleigh faces her past and confronts Ben’s, she fights to keep herself from falling back into the darkness of unfeeling, but it may be at a price she isn’t willing to pay.

Check out this link for an excerpt of Alyeska.

Don’t Miss This Giveaway of Alyeska!

I can’t thank all of those who have downloaded a free copy of my latest e-book Alyeska enough. Your continued support is why I continue doing what I do. Hopefully you are warm in your home, curled up with hot coffee or cocoa, and your copy of Alyeska! I’m definitely in a cuddly mood in my PJ’s and coffee.

If you haven’t grabbed your e-copy yet, don’t miss your chance! You have until Friday! Here’s how you can take advantage of this giveaway: click the below link to “buy” your e-book copy on Amazon, and enjoy! It’s that easy.

All I ask, my dear fellow readers, is to rate and review Alyeska as you wish.

Thank you to every single one of you for the constant support, and I hope you enjoy a romance nestled in the mountains of Alyeska, Alaska.alyeskacover

Grab your copy here! – (Amazon link)

The Alyeska Ski Resort and Spa near Anchorage, Alaska is known for its beautiful mountains, relaxing environment, and delicious dining, but for Kayleigh Wilson, a trip to the frozen tundra was meant to offer so much more. After a past full of pain, she lived her life based on how little she had to feel, so when her brother offered a weekend trip to the resort where no one even knew her name, she jumped at the opportunity. For Kayleigh, this trip was exactly what she needed to put herself back in the game of dating and romance, but she never planned on meeting a man who could actually alleviate her past and allow her to experience every emotion she had shut off so long ago. Benjamin Thomas, the man who awakens her heart from hibernation, is full of his own pain, but in his mind, some secrets are better left unshared. As Kayleigh faces her past and confronts Ben’s, she fights to keep herself from falling back into the darkness of unfeeling, but it may be at a price she isn’t willing to pay.

Check out this link for an excerpt of Alyeska.

Giveaway Time: Alyeska

With the pending nor’easter about to hit the east coast, what better time to snuggle up with a winter wonderland romance. The time has come, my darling dears! Get your free e-copy of Alyeska now!

alyeskacoverHere’s how you can grab your e-book copy: click the below link to “buy” your e-book copy on Amazon, and enjoy!

It’s that easy, and you have until Friday 11:59 PM to do it.

All I ask, my dear fellow readers, is to rate and review Alyeska as you wish.

Thank you to every single one of you for the constant support, and I hope you enjoy a romance nestled in the mountains of Alyeska, Alaska.

Grab your copy here! – (Amazon link)

The Alyeska Ski Resort and Spa near Anchorage, Alaska is known for its beautiful mountains, relaxing environment, and delicious dining, but for Kayleigh Wilson, a trip to the frozen tundra was meant to offer so much more. After a past full of pain, she lived her life based on how little she had to feel, so when her brother offered a weekend trip to the resort where no one even knew her name, she jumped at the opportunity. For Kayleigh, this trip was exactly what she needed to put herself back in the game of dating and romance, but she never planned on meeting a man who could actually alleviate her past and allow her to experience every emotion she had shut off so long ago. Benjamin Thomas, the man who awakens her heart from hibernation, is full of his own pain, but in his mind, some secrets are better left unshared. As Kayleigh faces her past and confronts Ben’s, she fights to keep herself from falling back into the darkness of unfeeling, but it may be at a price she isn’t willing to pay.

Check out this link for an excerpt of Alyeska.

Let the Countdown Begin

Four terms left, my friends! FOUR! And I will have obtained my Bachelor’s degree. After graduating with my Associates degree in 2010, I wasn’t sure I would ever go back to school, but my husband finally motivated me to go for it. Almost two years later, I can see the finish line with four more terms left!

I think I can. I think I can. I’m almost there!

I really believe that once I graduate, not only will doors within my career open, but so will the flood gates on my creative mind. I literally work at my classes at least two hours a day, five days a week, sometimes more. It has left me feeling dry and overworked, so once I finally graduate, I can imagine a ship sailing into harbor and unleashing my determination to finish my latest project.

I probably won’t attend graduation since it is held on campus in New Hampshire, but I promise you, it will be one the happiest days of my life to finally have that diploma in hand. That one piece of paper will welcome so many new opportunities and alleviate a world of stress off of my mind. Let the countdown begin!

Without Him by Christina Grimmie

I am in love with this song right now. I know I said that like a week ago about I won’t give up by Jason Mraz, but this song is really just hitting my feels this week. Call me fickle, but it’s just fitting my mood, I guess.

I have talked for years about a Muse bringing me inspiration in many different forms. From fellow authors, poets, movies, and music, my Muse tickles me through various avenues. My current project I am working on is about a college age student who is experiencing a life she only dreamed of, but ends up unfolding into something she could have never imagined. Vague enough for you?

Well, as a romance writer, you know there is a love interest. He wants the girl, but believes she deserves more. This is where this song is coming into play I think. Our heroine can’t imagine life without him and wants only him, but there are so many outside forces and antagonists playing against them, they have to fight for their love. Christina Grimmie is really speaking to my Muse, and for that, I thank her wherever she peacefully is now.tragedia-halara-lottek-a-fiatal-enekesnot-christina-grimmie-t-06110145

This young woman was so talented. Her voice was beautiful, and her music actually holds more meaning than basic materialistic mindsets. She was close to her family and sweet to her fans. Christina Grimmie is sorely missed, but her music is still inspiring me today. For that, again I say, thank you.

Without Him by Christinia Grimmie

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

16153993This song has been stuck in my head all day! I’m not sure why, maybe I heard it on the radio or in a store during Valentine’s day, but for whatever reason, I can’t stop singing it.

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

I’ve read where some look to make a deeper meaning of the song, and if that’s what you need to connect whatever dots in your mind need connecting then have at it. I, on the other hand, take it on the very literal sense. My logical brain at work again.

Well, I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

Just those few lines designated as chorus hit me deep in my soul. I think I have said it before in a previous post (Find The One Who Will Lift You Up), life and love isn’t always pretty. It’s a messy, fumbling state of being chosen by two people. It’s harsh and demanding and at times completely overwhelming.

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

But it’s in those moments of hardship the choice these two individuals made to give their everything to try and be together tests their commitment. It’s in those moments of trial and tribulation that the very decision they made is second guessed and every flaw is exposed in the very foundation of the relationship.

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up

It is also in these moments that another choice is brought to light, another fork in the road must be examined. Do these people continue to hold on to their original commitment and fight to remain together, or do they give in to the pressure closing in on them? Do the choose each other or choose to go on without the other?

I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got, yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am

It is only after the choice is made again to see the relationship through, to continue to fight for the love you promised to give, to not give up on just the other person involved in this promise, but to not give up on the collective you, the encompassing us, does that love continue to grow.

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up, I’m still looking up.

It is the next step after renewing the promise that counts the most.prove that you are giving all of your love, all of yourself to your significant other. Prove to not only just the other person, but to yourself as well that you are and always will be even if the skies get rough.

Well, I won’t give up on us (no I’m not giving up)
God knows I’m tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We’ve got a lot to learn (we’re alive, we are loved)
God knows we’re worth it (and we’re worth it)

Because God knows we’re worth it. God knows that our love is worth it.

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

And continue to move forward together through every storm. Continue to choose each other and never hang your head in defeat. Give all of yourself to your commitment of love, and, God knows, it’s worth it.

I won’t give up by Jason Mraz

Oh, the thinks I am thinking.

My daughter loves one of Dr. Seuss’s books, “Oh, the thinks you can think.” As most Dr. Seuss books are, this one is full of silly rhymes and random items thrown together, but it is also a parent’s nightmare because of how all over the place it is. It jumps from simple questions to complex, compound sentences with a rhyme scheme that doesn’t exactly match the previous page. It’s hard to find a rhythm. Certainly, not one of my favorite Seussian books, but she enjoys it.oh-thinks-you-can-think-dr-seuss

It does makes me think (see what I did there?) of how in the world that man could come up with such crazy, yet coherent books that even children love. I then let that thought train spiral into what and how my brain thinks, how my thoughts are formed, and how I see the world. Do I see it in a mix array of things that are all thrown together and forced into insane yet manageable cohesiveness like Dr. Seuss?

Nahh. I’m more of a logical mind in the sense that everything has its place, but I will admit there are times where my brain processes and clumps thoughts together so effortlessly that even I sometimes feel lost on how the train got to that station.

Our minds are such curious things, and I think I’ve just learned to appreciate the genius in Dr. Seuss’s book. It’s like a challenge to not only the child reading the book, but to the adult. I think even Disney once said that “Even adults were children once.” Maybe they are both on to something. As we become adults, we may need a reminder to think more like children, with an open mind to all the thinks we can think.

Now I’m thinking of planning a trip to Disney. Where’d that train come from?