The Phoenix and the Darkness

Today, I welcome fellow Indie Chick Lizzy Ford. What follows is her inspiring and provoking tale from Indie Chicks: 25 Independent Women, 25 Personal Stories. All proceeds from this book go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the fight against breast cancer. It's available for your Kindle and your Nook. 

The Phoenix and the Darkness

by Lizzy Ford

I've been running from The Darkness since I left home at the age of 17.  I escaped a broken family to the military, found it unwelcoming to creative non-conformists but fulfilled my commitment.  The first man I dated was a drunkard who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder; the second raped me.  The rest of my time in the military was a blur of men, the different places I lived and The Darkness stalking me.  At the end of my tour, I set my world on fire to keep the Darkness away, abandoned everything and everyone, and emerged from the flames like the mythical Phoenix.  I ran home to Ohio.  I didn’t stay long and continued onward to New York, where I reinvented myself for a very brief period of contentedness.
It didn’t last.  Darkness, fire, rebirth, and a few years, men and states later, I ended up in the arms of yet another unworthy man.  I followed him to DC, bore the mental abuse, and tried to tell myself this was the best life would ever get. 
I took a job in a field I didn't care for and ended up running from job-to-job-to-job, unable to find a place where I was happy.  I was hit by a drunk driver at 26, leaving me with a long lifetime of constant pain.  I had a miscarriage, gave all my money to the unworthy man and couldn't pay my bills despite the good job.  I moved from Virginia to Maryland and back to Virginia, unable to shake the pursuing Darkness.  Finally, I put all my belongings in storage, ready to set my word afire and flee once again. 
I worked up the nerve to ditch the dysfunctional man, but before I could run far, I met the man who would become my first husband.  He wanted normal things:  stability, house, family.  I convinced myself if I had these things, the Darkness would be gone.  He needed a mother, not a wife, but I married him anyway and prayed it was enough.
It wasn't.  I set my world afire once more, and I fled him, too.  I put everything I valued in my truck, grabbed the dog, and left.  Away from DC, the east coast, everything I owned, my first husband.  I ran to Texas to a new job and divorced the first husband.  Yet again, I was reborn.  Soon after, I met my soul mate.  Some part of me knew I couldn’t keep running if I wanted to keep him.  I turned around to see if The Darkness still chased me.  After fifteen years of running, The Darkness was closer than ever.
I told the man who would become my second husband to stay away from me – I was dangerous.  He saw The Darkness, and he saw me.
You’re brilliant and beautiful.  I love you, Darkness and all, he said.  But if you don’t deal with it and accept the fate for which you were put on this earth, you’ll be consumed by it.
I couldn’t yet face the Darkness even with his support, but I could see how wrong my path was.  My path wasn't a career I loathed, and it wasn't ignoring my true gift: writing.  So I worked full time and wrote full time.  I found true joy for the first time in my life, but The Darkness got too close.  I ran away from that job - the only job I'd ever remotely enjoyed.  This time, I kept my only ally in life - my guardian angel and partner. 
I took a new job in a new state.  With my husband and my writing, I saw The Darkness recede, and I grew happy.  Instead of looking over my shoulder, I started looking into the future.  I vowed to run towards something instead of away from something.  I wasn’t just reborn – I was alive for the first time in my life.
And then, this past summer, I tripped.  The Darkness swallowed me.  As in one of my upcoming novels, The Darkness turned me inside out.  I couldn't go to work and could barely leave the house.  It pinned me beneath it, and the more I tried to run, the heavier it got.  Everything I'd run from in life was there: my near-poverty upbringing; the breaking apart of my family when I was a kid; my struggle with my weight and social anxiety issues; with finding acceptance at any job; with men and dysfunctional relationships; the pending financial disaster I'd been building; fear of failure and ending up as miserable as my parents.  I thought I'd suffocate, until the Darkness spoke to me.
You can run again and risk losing the man you love, or you can face me and be happy, it said.
I want to be happy, I replied.
Then do what you must.
It's not that easy.  I'm scared.
Sometimes life only gives us difficult choices, but you still must choose.  I am a part of you. You must accept me and deal with me before you can move on, it said.
I thought hard as I looked at all the things I'd accumulated that were bankrupting me financially and emotionally.  I looked at what made me happy in life: my husband and my writing.  I saw how I'd hurt my most precious treasures - and myself - by setting my world on fire whenever The Darkness got too close.
This is gonna hurt, I told The Darkness.
Not for long, it said.  You only have to do this once.
In that moment, I made my choice.  I would face The Darkness within me, no matter how hard it was.  I loved my husband too much to hurt him more, and I was sick of being a coward.  I took a leave of absence in early September to deal with my past as well as the depression and anxiety that have haunted me my whole life.  Writing has always been my solace and my passion. Through it, I'll heal the world I broke and my own soul, and become the partner my husband deserves. 
The Phoenix will be reborn once more, not of fire, but of Darkness, and will emerge stronger than ever.
~  ~  ~ 

Lizzy Ford is the author of the War of Gods series.
The "War of Gods" series by Lizzy Ford is a paranormal romance series depicting the ongoing struggle between good and evil - and the immortals and their human mates who are caught in the middle.  The first book, "Damian's Oracle" (released October 2011) is the story of the White God and his Oracle, the cool beauty, Sofia.  The second book, "Damian's Assassin," (released November 2011) is about the White God's assassin and the woman who heals his heart and body.  The third book will be released 02 Dec and tells the tale of the White God's chief immortal and the mysterious, beautiful Magician he risks his life to protect.

Damian’s Oracle (currently free on Amazon)

Lizzy's contact information:

One Day Left to Enter!

Sue over at Cookie's Bookclub is giving away 3 copies of my e-book, His wife for a while. Hurry on over there and enter for your chance to win. There are several ways to enter, so be sure to take advantage of as many of the choices as possible. Good luck!

Happy Thanksgiving

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
 ~  ~ ~
You cannot do a kindness too soon
because you never know how soon it will be too late.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
 ~ ~ ~
No one is useless in this world
who lightens the burden of another.
Charles Dickens
 ~ ~ ~
Some people are always grumbling
because roses have thorns;
I am thankful that thorns have roses.
Alphonse Karr
~ ~ ~
When I started counting my blessings,
my whole life turned around.

Willie Nelson

Romance in Brazil

My novel, The Merry-Go-Round, has been published by Nova Cultural in Brazil. I'm so happy that my book is finding new readers!

Here's a link to the website:  Nova Cultural

BigAl's Books and Pals: His Wife for a While / Donna Fasano

Books and Pals reviews my latest release!

BigAl's Books and Pals: His Wife for a While / Donna Fasano: Reviewed by: BigAl Genre: Romance Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words Availability Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smash...

Write or Die

Today I welcome Danielle Blanchard to my blog. The following is her story from Indie Chicks: 25 Independent Women, 25 Inspiring Stories

Write or Die

2010 was the worst year of my life.
After a very successful career in the banking industry, I suddenly found myself unemployed, my marriage falling apart and to add insult to injury my father dying. I had a 10 month old daughter and suddenly, I was back living with my unmarried, child-free sister with two children. Life was bleak and the most terrifying part about the whole situation was I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.
I was attending university for a degree in International Business but who was I kidding? I’d always hated business; I was good at banking but should I base my career on something I was simply good at or should I be doing something I love? This was my dilemma and I had no one to blame for my predicament but myself.
Plenty of women had overcome more tremendous obstacles so why was I feeling sorry for myself? I steeled my spine and decided to make some real decisions. In the middle of the detritus which was now my life, I found a wonderful and caring man I fell hopelessly in love with but the problem was he didn’t live in this country and he was a successful and driven attorney. What would he want with someone like me? Unemployed, two children, divorced and somewhat shaky ambitions at an age where most women had it made, were married and excelling towards middle age. My life was a mess and I needed a man like a fish needs a bicycle (thanks, U2!).
I took a long hard look at my life and realized I had failed to plan and therefore I had planned to fail.
When I stood at that podium and looked at the few family and friends who had bothered to show up at my dad’s funeral, my life became so clear. My father had had so many chances; so much lost opportunities and had blew all of them due to fear and inertia. I was my father’s daughter; I was falling into that same black hole of despondency with no way out.
It took another fourteen months before I had the actual courage to see out my dream and make it a reality. Isabelle Solal had written a book, In The Past Imperfect, and her good friend, Sion Dayson, had promoted it on her blog. She was tired of waiting for the agent who would never accept the publisher who could never take a chance and had decided to self-publish her fictional book on Amazon. Was this possible? Could I self-publish? Could I take my book which I had tried to find an agent for the past eight years or so and do it myself? Say it isn’t so!
I was so excited about the possibility of publishing, I dug it out of the place it’d warmed my different hard drives and laptops over the years, decided at over one thousand hard back pages, it was much too long to publish as a full length novel, chopped it up into eight parts and hit publish on the first part.
I was ecstatic as I had done my own cover (a beautiful statue which captivated me while I was on my European vacation) and it was just so perfect. Unfortunately, no one else knew I existed and that is when I realized publishing was more than just about hitting a button. I had to make sure my novel was edited, the right cover was used to attract attention and there was a whole list of indie writers I didn’t know about but they were there and ready to be at my service.
In the beginning, I only used Kindle’s Direct Publishing board because that was the only one I knew about. Another writer, Athanasios, who wrote a thrilling book titled Mad Gods, told everyone on the KDP boards about a new Facebook board group called Indie Writers’ Unite. I joined, Cheryl Bradshaw, the creator of IWU accepted me, and the rest is history.
I wish I could say I am selling thousands of copies and I got the guy but that isn’t life and nothing happens without time. I am selling and many people have discovered my work; I have met some of the bravest men and women on the planet at IWU and I feel like a million bucks even if my life still isn’t a bed of roses. The guy, like everything good in life, will take some time and I am willing to put it in and make the effort; nothing worth anything is easy to accomplish for the matter.
I love to write so that is what I’m doing. I enjoy writing whatever moves me, thus I have work in several different genres including Women’s Literature, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I also plan to do a novel I have had in the works for a while that is firmly Mystery with a Thriller twist.
For the first time, I stayed true to myself, my ambitions and what I want my life to be and represent. I know it will get better and all my dreams will come true—many of them already have. My life is still changing, still revolving but I have come out ahead, stronger and more positive than I ever thought possible. I learned the hard way either I write or I can simply subsist and die.
Life is like writing; it isn’t about perfection, but it is about the possibilities we are given every day, the decisions we make and what we want to do with them. It is about forks in the road and deciding which direction to take and making the best with whatever is thrown at us once we make our decisions. It is the way it should be and that is simply imperfect.
 ~  ~  ~
Danielle Blanchard is the author of  Death Wish and Forever 27.

Cookie's Book Club: Interview with Donna Fasano author of The Merry-G...

Cookie's Book Club: Interview with Donna Fasano author of The Merry-G...: I'm pleased to welcome back Donna Fasano to Cookie's Book Club. The last time Donna was here , while I was on vacation, quite a little party...

New Release - His Wife for a While

I'm pleased to announce the release of my newest romance novel, His Wife for a While.

Desperate Bachelor 

Ben Danvers was about to lose everything―unless he found a woman willing to become his wife. The terms of his grandfather's will were outrageous, but they were iron clad. Just when Ben was about to give up all hope, the last woman he ever expected to wed made a startling proposal.

Bargaining Bride

Chelsea Carson offered Ben a deal he couldn't refuse. He could keep the family fruit orchard if he would make her one and only dream come true. But there were to be no strings attached, no messy emotions when it was over. Their makeshift marriage would be perfect―unless Chelsea allowed love to bungle the plan.

Also available in Amazon's Kindle Store

Latchkey Kid

This week I welcome author Heather Adkins who presents her story from the book Indie Chicks: 25 Independent Women, 25 Personal Stories.

 Heather Marie Adkins

Latchkey Kid

It isn’t easy being the daughter of a police officer, but it’s even more difficult to be the daughter of a female police officer. I would come to understand this early, and often, in my life.

My mom’s career has always been the whirling force of my existence.
She was sworn into the Louisville Police Department on September 10, 1990. I was five years old. For the majority of my developmental years, I bounced through a succession of caretakers—my grandmother, my father and stepmother, and a kind woman I called ‘Mama Lo’—while my mom was forging her way through her early years as a rookie officer.

I remember late nights—my mom in her uniform, her gun belt digging into my side as she bundled me into a blanket to carry me to the car. I remember mornings getting on the school bus, knowing Mom would be coming home from work just in time for me to leave. But when I remember these things, they are snippets: Only bits and pieces of the woman who is my mother. Her job was demanding and sometimes, you just have to sacrifice to make your dreams come true.

When I was ten, Mom aced the Detective test and was granted her first promotion. Suddenly, we were buying a new house in a nice neighborhood. I was in middle school, which was awkward enough, and Mom began working 4 pm to midnight.
Thus began my time as a Latchkey Kid.

I rode the bus home from school and let myself into the house around 4:30 every afternoon. Under Mom’s strict instructions, I would check to make sure all three doors of the house were locked and then I would set the alarm. Until bedtime, I was on lockdown. No going outside—not even to the backyard. No answering the door, no looking out the windows. Just me and the dog: A tiny Shih-Tzu named Cinnamon.

I was kind of an odd child. I didn’t care much for television, though I did love to play Nintendo. I could rock on some Mario Bros. I also absolutely loved to read, particularly R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Ann M. Martin’s The Babysitter’s Club. There is really only so much video gaming and reading a girl can do before she wishes she had another hobby. At least, that’s how it was for me. I was lonely. Monday through Friday, every evening alone…it sucked.

It was around this time that my daddy shared with me a novel he was writing. Daddy is a computer guru who does freelance work, but he writes for fun on the side. “Demigod” was one of the most amazing things I had ever read. Not only was I astounded that my dad had such talent, but for the first time I realized there were people behind the books I liked to read.

Armed with nothing more than spiral-bound notebooks and pencils, I began writing.
Between 10 and 16, I wrote seven full-length novels. Today, I suppose they would be considered Young Adult. Some of them were murder mysteries with strong heroines. Many of them had elements of what today is considered Paranormal Romance. Most of my early influences were from authors I enjoyed: Stine, as well as Richie Tankersley Cusick and Christopher Pike. Somewhere in the midst of all this, my mom bought me a laptop and I transferred everything to digital.

I continued to write during high school, though significantly less once I got my driver’s license. I focused mainly on short stories and built up a vast collection that I ended up losing to the nightmare of an erased floppy disk. I majored in English in high school. Earned a couple college credits. And was told multiple times by various English teachers that I had talent.

After graduation, I went away to college at Western Kentucky University. My mother had married a great man who was also a police officer. Between the two of them, I was able to go away to school and thus started several years of BAD DECISIONS. I kicked it off right, as most first-time college teens do. I drank too much and partied too hard, not making it to class, much less spending my time writing. Two years later, I came home to Louisville with my tail between my legs, no smarter than I was before.

Back at my mother and stepfather’s home, I found the situation to be stifling for the girl who had done what she wanted, when she wanted for so long. I was already rebelling—not phoning, disappearing all night—when a chance encounter on the banks of the Ohio River brought a man into my life who was not right for me in more ways than one.

Jason was an ex-con and felon. I was the daughter of two police officers. Cue ominous music.

Let’s skip the dirty parts and go to the section where I pack my things and flee into the night like a bat out of Hades. My parents change the locks, I cut off all contact, and hole up in a hovel on 3rd Street with my friend, Brent. Oh, and in the meantime, my convict boyfriend ends up back in the Slammer.

I bounced around for some time. To an apartment with my cousin, Ryan. Then to a big, fancy house outside of Nashville, Tennessee with Jason’s family. After severing ties with them, I rented a tiny studio apartment downtown. I moved a couple more times, losing money (and myself) in the process.

Not once in the years I spent chasing something, anything in Tennessee did I sit down to write.

In January 2008, I was in debt and barely hanging on to the apartment I was renting. My good-for-nothing, pot-smoking boyfriend-of-the-moment wasn’t helping with the bills because he couldn’t hold a job. My car was on the verge of repossession. I was going nowhere; the only positive thing I did have was that I was talking with my parents again.
Then the life-shattering, earth-moving event. In North Carolina, January 31st, my cousin Cory—a Marine, a firefighter, one of my best friends—was killed in a car accident. He was 25 years old.

My mom drove from Louisville to Nashville the minute she heard. She told me it was because she didn’t want me to be alone, nor did she want to tell me something so sensitive over the phone. That’s just how she is; no matter how terrible a daughter I could be, she always put me first.

Later that same night after she left, I was alone. My deadhead boyfriend wasn’t home, neither was our equally stoned roommate. I was sitting on our single mattress on the floor, looking around our bare room with its one dresser and a floor strewn with clothes. It hit me.

What are you doing? Really?

Was I just trying to prove I could do it on my own? Because I couldn’t. Obviously.
In a flash of grief and pain, I realized my life had spiraled out of control simply because I was too stubborn to admit my parents were right.

I packed my things. My dog and I climbed in the old Jeep. And we came home to Louisville.

During the upheaval of moving back, I also found something I hadn’t yet realized I had lost—my writing. Whether it was my grief over Cory or simply returning home, I don’t know—but I started writing again.

Even better…I finished the novels I had started years before and I have started (and finished) even more in the time since.

I’ve been through a lot in my life. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as some, maybe it wasn’t as rough…but it shows that a girl can make bad decisions, life-changing mistakes, and still bounce back.

My mom is a Major with the Louisville Metro Police force—the third highest ranking female on the department. She just celebrated her 21st anniversary this month. I am in a stable, committed relationship with a man who will one day be my husband. We live in a small but nice home—I’m a police dispatcher. He’s a police officer.

I was a latchkey kid and because of it, I am now a writer. I am the daughter of a female police officer, and because of that, I’m a stronger, better woman.
This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!
My paranormal romance novel, Abigail , is one of the novels featured.
All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.


Knight in Shining Armor

I welcome Shéa MacLeod to In All Directions. She is a participating author of Indie Chicks: 25 Independent Women, 25 Inspiring Stories. Today, she’s sharing her story.

Knight in Shining Armor

by Shéa MacLeod

It’s strange how long a bruise can last. 
Long after the physical evidence is gone, the muscles remember.  A raised hand or an angry voice, and the body flinches away.  The mind tries to forget, bury the pain deep … but the scars are forever.
It didn’t start that way, of course.  He said all the right things.  Did all the right things.  When I was sick he took care of me.  When my car broke down he fixed it.  I thought I’d finally found my knight in shining armor. 
What I’d found was a nightmare.  The minute I was hooked, everything changed.  It started with the name calling, the blame, the bouts of rage.  As time passed, he turned increasingly violent.  It was always my fault.  I was useless.  I’d never be anything.  Do anything.  Accomplish anything. 
If I tried to fight him, he threatened to destroy everyone I loved.  To ruin their lives.  Stupidly, I believed him.
He was always sorry after.
You might ask why I didn’t leave.  It’s a fair question.  But until you’ve been there, until you’ve lived through that, you have no idea how messed up a woman’s head gets when she has to live through that day after day.  There is no such thing as confidence, self-esteem.  You learn to live with the overwhelming conviction that this is all there is.  You have nowhere else to go. 
That’s the very worst part of abuse.  Beyond the bruises and the emotional scars.  The absolute knowledge that this is the way you will live.  And most likely the way you will die.  You don’t deserve anything else.
In a way, I was lucky.  I had something else.  A secret weapon, if you will.  I just had no idea back then how powerful that weapon was.
I could write.
All through those nightmare years I wrote.  Not about what I was living through, but about something else.  An imaginary world where I would escape, where I was strong.  A place where I kicked bad guy ass.  A place where I was my own hero.
Prophetic?  Perhaps. 
The writing kept a spark of something alive in me.  My soul?  Hope?  Who knows.  But one day, that tiny spark of something flared up.  I couldn’t take another minute.
I had nothing.  No money.  Nowhere to go.  But I walked out that door and never looked back. 
Nobody rode in on a white horse to save me.  I saved myself.
It was a very long uphill struggle to get healthy again, but through it all I kept writing.  Writing had always been my passion, now it was my salvation, too.
Through writing I regained my sense of self.  I grew strong.  Stronger than I ever had been before.  Words poured from me as my mind and body healed itself.  Slowly but surely I recovered.
It’s nine years later and that life seems like a distant nightmare.  The woman I was then could never have dreamed of the life I am living today.
The writing has never stopped.  It just moved with me, changing zip codes.  I now write in a sunny room in a Georgian townhouse in London, England.  I have self published two novels and am about to publish the third.  My stories, while sometimes holding a dark edge, are still full of hope and my readers love them.  I am now selling enough that I can stay at home and write full time.  I made my dreams a reality.
Guess what?
You can, too.
The day I walked out of that abusive relationship was the day I became my own hero.  That one action changed everything.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please visit the Hot Peach Pages for a list of agencies all over the world who help women living in domestic violence.  
No woman deserves to be abused and mistreated.  It’s time to say NO to violence.
It’s time to be your own hero.
~  ~  ~
“This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels! My novel, DRAGON WARRIOR, is one of the novels featured. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.”

Indie Chicks is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble