The Gardener.

Along the road to the wishing well the thing slunk and sidled.

Its intent quite golden, was disguised by the sidestepping gait and dragging feet. Rancid cloth and burnished leathered skin caused onlookers to tremble and clutch their souls.

The exact worth of those souls not equal to the mud consuming their booted feet. The secrets and lies festered within their squalid homes and hearts.

Yet, their eyes looked about the thing with such distaste and disgust as to summon all that is evil within their small, small world. For it was what was slowly eating them alive that also saved them.

The evil often groaned and moved beneath the town. Quite simply it was everywhere and everything and enjoyed touching and grasping through the thick black mud. It could hear the lies. It knew the secrets. Its body grew on greed and violence and hatred until it could almost burst with discontent.

The water ran in rivulets over kith and kin, over stone and hearth, over that sidling thing. It ran over the souls and soaked into soil that was never satiated.

The thing continued its dragging advance toward the well. Within its folded grasp three delicate blooms lay. A purple so bright as to render the world monochrome.

Its height so challenged that to peer into the well was a dream, the thing lifted the blooms towards the darkened sky. The falling droplets kissed the petals one by one, bruising and crushing the virgin flesh. The earth groaned and undulated and the mud pulled harder.

The souls stopped breathing and clutched their wretched bodies. It was a terrible thing to know the place you were destined to lie. Even more terrible the knowledge that your debouched soul was born to inhabit a world so delicate its borders blurred between one single open wound in need of constant tending.

With the tip of a gnarled wrist the petals tumbled into the gaping well. The thing imagined the slow fall into the earth below and stared intently at the surrounding carved and curved rock.

It was an age or barely a whisper and time stopped, and began again. The earth quietened.  The souls exhaled. The thing slunk and sidled away.

Until next time.

Another End and Another Beginning: A tale of stuff and other things.

It’s been a couple of years and nothing much has changed since the last post.

I’m older. My health is possibly worse.  I haven’t written a full romance manuscript. My husband and I have been learning how to live, work, and parent and do that all together at the same time in some form of positive manner.

But mostly, there has been an overabundance of self-indulgence.  I’ve been thinking about me quite a lot. I’ve been thinking about me so much that I’m actually a little over myself.

I did submit one children’s story to a publisher but the three month deadline has passed so I am assuming it was a bust.  I know people get heaps of knockbacks before something sticks so it’s not that I’m devastated. It’s more that some part of me has to believe I deserve a yes. I’m clearly not there yet.

When I have written something it has always been about me or stemming from me – something that some misguided part of me believed other people would want to read – which is inherently what a blog is. I suppose that is why I moved away from blogging in the first place – I just couldn’t see how complaining into the universe would help anything or move me forward in a positive manner. Perhaps I wasn’t blogging correctly? Perhaps I had no idea what I was doing? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.  Also a song off my favourite Cake album.

So I’ve started to weed through the copse of self-indulgence to look for the positives that have grown. I have continued reading my favourite novels and continue to love romance as a genre. I have learnt more about myself.  I have reconnected with my favourite music.  I have submitted one manuscript. I have been learning every single day through work and through parenting.

So I wonder – how does one move from a period of learning and self-indulgence to whatever the opposite of that is? Is all writing self-indulgent? Self-serving? Why am I uncomfortable with that? All great questions.

So was it a beginning? That last misguided post and attempt to refocus and push myself? Yes, yes it was. It wasn’t the beginning I was hoping for but it was a beginning.  Hope, I have realised, doesn’t really have a place here.

I am also an incredibly private person. Unfortunately after my last post, instead of engaging in writing, I essentially went to ground. I stopped using social media. You know, so I would have more time to think about myself I suppose.  Or it was born from some misguided attempt at not being vacuous and attention seeking.  That is not so say that those who use social media are vacuous and attention seeking. More, that’s how I felt.  Once again – because I was all up in my own business rather than being out in the world thinking about something other than myself.

So up next is a piece of writing that is completely not about me. Something that scared me because it didn’t fit in a box. Also, something that fell out of me after a large cup of coffee and a moment of bravery.  So maybe coffee and bravery is the key. Maybe hope gets you started but bravery gets in and does that hard work.  Maybe I still don’t get it.  I might be back in a couple of years denouncing bravery too.  Who knows?

Please enjoy my short story titled: The Gardener. Or not. I can’t tell you what to do.

x Angelina.

An End And A Beginning: A Tale Of Stuff And Things.

I’ve not posted a piece here for some time. That’s not to say I haven’t been churning out submissions for the page. I have. Quite a lot actually.

However, a while ago I made a decision to not send anything negative into the already cluttered webosphere. So I have a virtual pile of blogs waiting to be posted. They haven’t all been negative, but they do all address mental health in one form or another.

Is a blog really a blog in the woods? Or does someone have to read it? Huh?

I realised some time ago that I was writing the blogs for me. I’d love for them to be worthwhile in some way to at least one person out there in the world, however, they really have just been a bit of therapy. They have also helped me stay connected with writing when there was no connection.

So today I’ve decided to end all pretence of having a blog. This will be my last post. I am now reconnected with writing. In the past I wanted to make that a public thing. I was proud and I wanted everyone to know it. I’m a little more private about it now.

So, just in case there is any curiosity about my un posted blogs, here are some of the titles I’ve been writing under:

A Silent Heart And An Empty Cup. Or: Work/Life Balance And Other Things That Elude Me.

My Neighbour Is Taunting Me With Her Washing Line. Or: Paranoia And Other Fun Things.

I Read My First Nocturn. Well Not Really. I Read Some Of One Nocturn. Then I Placed It Gently On The Table And Backed Away Slowly.

Post Natal Depression. I’m Okay Now.

Does He Love me Or Was It The Depression All This Time? A Commentary On Self Worth.

Why Aren’t I Writing? No really. Why?

You Are The Collateral Damage Of Someone Else’s Trauma.

The Evolution Of Pain. Not To Be Confused With Dance.

So Apparently I’m The Elephant In The Room. The Cautionary Whale, And Other Terrible Cliches.

A Sense Of My Own Mortality. On The Wisdom Of Grosse Pointe Blank.

Killing Myself With Kindness.

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

As Soon As I Saw Her Eyebrows I knew We Would Get Along Just Fine.

People pleasing 101. Another Commentary On Self Worth.

As you can see from their titles, they’re pretty amazing…and just for me. If you want your own therapy I can recommend a few people.

Thanks for the good times you delightful 41 people signed up to receive a notification I’ve posted something new. You rock. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

I’ll be back when I can say, “I just finished writing my first book.”

X Angelina.

I can’t read. Well I can. But just not right now.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. I haven’t blogged since June. My last blog wasn’t even a run-of-the-mill blog. It was one of those – “I’m going to save the world and end poverty, and look at me, I can conquer anything!” blogs. You know, not quite. But sort of. So yeah, what happened to me?

June was going to be life changing. I was going to write and finish a manuscript (destined for Harlequin Presents) in one month. For the first half of the month I was on track to do just that. Then I became sick. Then my husband turned 40. Then, under the weather and slightly off kilter I experienced something that triggered memories of my experience with post natal depression. Cue several months of emptiness. I want to write about that one day. But right now let’s get to the real point of this blog.

I can’t read. Well I can. But just not right now…and not for the last few months. If you’re a reader, devouring stories daily, you’ll have an idea how I feel right now.

I’m in a funk. Clearly there’s something on my mind. I can barely read the first two sentences of a book before I throw it down and self medicate with chocolate. My usual go-to authors aren’t doing it for me. I keep buying books in the hope one will pull me out of this fog. Instead, I just have a large pile of books. Where do you go when your go tos don’t work?

When I start reading a book I find myself mentally critiquing the style or format. I’m not engaged. I’m not getting lost in the story. I don’t like Prologues. I find too much of the first chapter written from the hero’s point of view tiresome. I want the hero and heroine to meet on the first page. I want lots of dialogue. Blah. Blah. Blah. Even I’m getting tired of these restrictions and excuses. 

I have several theories on what could be wrong with me. So does my husband apparently. I apologise in advance for the dot points.

– I wonder if I could be depressed and not realise it. Though with my history, I’m sort of a pro at identifying the onset of ennui. Mad skillz everybody.

– The 50k in 30 days (Romance Writers of Australia) may have been too confronting for me. Did I burn out? Was I overwhelmed by the acceptance and support I received?

– I just may have backed myself into a genre specific corner. I know exactly what I want and I want it written exactly how I want it and I want it now. (For those of you who are curious: I want a Presents Sheikh. A not-so-damsel-in-distress. Lots of sand. Tents. Adventure. And not a ‘Tycoon’ to be seen. Not that hard to find right?)

– I may have a story sitting in my heart that needs to be completed before I can allow myself anymore bliss in reading. Perhaps I’m punishing myself for not completing my manuscript?

Are you still with me? I totally understand if you’ve nodded off.

My husband’s theories:

– He wonders if my perception of the industry has changed. Perhaps I know too much about the ‘behind the curtain’ stuff now? Is my developing knowledge of the publishing process taking the magic out of reading these stories?

– He wonders if my relationship with these books has changed. After moving closer to family this year, perhaps I don’t need these characters to fill my emotional void anymore?

– He wonders if the events of the entire year have exhausted me emotionally. Leaving full time employment and my dream job to move back to our home town to be closer to family and be a stay at home mum again might have affected me more than I thought.

– Have my life priorities changed? Is reading and writing the romance genre not that important to me anymore? (My heart cries just typing this so hopefully not.)

So I put this to you, am I depressed? Do I have something on my mind not yet identified? Have I backed myself into a genre specific corner? Is not being able to sit down and read a book a #FirstWorldProblem? Where did I put my chocolate? Is there a part of me that wants to burst forth and write MY story? Am I now too close to the process? Do I know too much? Do I know too little? Has my dream changed? Do I not need these emotional supports in my life anymore?

Have any of you experienced something similar? If so, how did you move forward?

Thank you for listening. *A kitten and a box of chocolate to those of you who made it through this whole mess of blog entry.

X Angelina.

*Disclaimer: I’m not really giving out kittens and chocolate. If I had kittens and chocolate I’d be running a kitten circus, serving chocolate, and riding the wave of kitten circus success.

Hi, My Name is Angelina & I Am An Emotional Eater.

I was arguing with my three year old. Rookie move I know. You’d think I’d know better, especially as a Kindergarten Teacher. However, it’s an easy trap to fall into when you have a child with fantastic language skills. One minute we were having a lovely conversation about the differences between palaeontologists and archeologists, and the next he pulled a classic toddler move and became completely irrational.

I stated my intention to stop conversing after I was clearly getting nowhere in calming his toddler tantrum, and was asked, “But who will cheer me up now Mum? There’s no one else! Daddy is away on his business trip. I need someone to cheer me up. Who will cheer me up?”

I did my usual spiel, the one I’ve used for years on my Kindergarten children. “You need to learn how to cheer yourself up. Only you can make yourself happy. What do you think you could do to make yourself feel happy?” At which point he looked at me with his big brown eyes and I caved. I caved big time. We had cuddles, played firemen, read stories, and built a train track. Mainly because he’s three and I need to remember that, and because I was missing Daddy too, and sometimes I’m irrational. Also, because I know self regulation is a skill children learn around the 4-5 year old mark and it’s a skill that needs to be taught and modelled.

But mostly, and here’s the kicker, I knew there was a box of chocolatey cereal in the cupboard with my name on it, and that said cereal would be consumed as soon as my son went to bed.

Hi, my name is Angelina, and I am an emotional eater. It was that moment when I was looking into my son’s big brown eyes that I realised I’m an incredibly big hypocrite. Literally and figuratively.

It was then over the bowl of said chocolatey cereal that I wondered how I got to that point. I still have no idea. All I know is that I could be experiencing a debilitating panic attack, eat something, and then magically calm down completely. Why wouldn’t I repeat that action. Especially after a stint with Post Natal Depression.

So I asked myself the same question I asked my son. “What could I do to make myself feel happy?” All the answers I came up with involved needing other people to play a part. It was like a lesson in Me 101. Except the only person who could teach me was right there, eating that massive bowl of cereal.

Eventually, and with much wailing and possibly gnashing, I looked at the books around me, the pens and paper, the computer, and realised I’ve been doing what I love and what makes me happy for a long time. I just hadn’t given it credence or the time. I hadn’t committed. The reason for that would be a separate post entirely. Fear of failure? Fear of happiness? Fear of being present in life? Fear of looking too closely at personal traumas? The feeling that I am undeserving?

Like I said, a whole new post is needed to open that bag of personal crazy.

It was mid wail and gnash that I noticed the invitation to join a writing challenge hosted by the Romance Writers of Australia. I registered immediately and without self depreciating thought or fear. Those two things are not welcome anymore.

I’ve committed to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. At day 4 I have written 9,944 words of my new manuscript. I’ve begun a journey that has provided me with so many wonderful experiences already. I feel like I am part of a community of people who get me. I feel bliss. I feel like my heart is being filled daily. I feel like I am home.

X Angelina.

For further information about the challenge you can follow the tweet stream at #50ks30days.

For further information about featured irrational toddler please visit maxpepperneale.com. He has his own picture book review blog. I know I’m biased but he and it are a bit gorgeous.

She Gets Me: A Brief Essay on Maisey Yates. Or Heir To A Desert Legacy: A Review.

I’ve never sat at a cafe’ and had coffee with Maisey Yates. I’ve never even met her. Yet, she gets me. She knows me better than I know myself. She knows my pain and she knows my passion and she put it all in the pages of Heir to a Desert Legacy.

I’m obviously not a Sheikh, nor do I have great wealth or visit glamorous locations often. I haven’t been a prisioner of war and I havent seen death. However, like many people I have experienced trauma and the resulting myriad of emotions. That’s the great thing about pain. It’s indiscriminate. As is the ability to feel passion, or even indifference. Each of these states of being are beautifully explored by Yates in a manner which truly demonstrates how similar we all are, despite our vast differences.

While I relate to Sayid on a purely emotional basis I also identify with Chloe. I am a mother, and like many mothers I am scarred physically as well as emotionally. I would die for my child, or like Chloe, put my own needs last in the pursuit of wellbeing and happiness for my child. Yates captures and presents these emotional struggles in a manner which manages to make me feel almost voyeuristic as I progress through the book. Especially so during Yates’ beautifully conceived lovemaking scenes. Maisey Yates manages to push the brief of the Presents title to its limits while remaining true to its origins.

While Yates engages me on an emotional level she also engages me through her writerly skill and brilliance. Her devotion to character is an inspiration. While Sayid’s emotional arc develops through the book, his character stays amazingly consistent. Without giving too much away, Yates’ devotion to character is also demonstrated beautifully within the first few pages of the book where she manages to introduce Chloe’s character hilariously and adeptly through the panels of a door.

While I have utterly fallen in love with this story and quite possibly Maisey Yates, I don’t think I needed the Epilogue. However, I do understand the need to have one in this particular story to provide closure to the narrative. Read the book and decide for yourself and come back and share your thoughts.

In summary, we are all the collateral damage of someone else’s trauma. Maisey Yates manages to express this expertly. You might think it remiss of me not to delve further into the plot for the purpose of this review, however I believe the real magic can be found between two heartwarmingly damaged strangers thrust together through circumstance, stubbornness, perceived duty, and love.

5/5 Stars.

X Angelina.

For more information about Heir to a Desert Legacy and Heir to a Dark Inheritance – the second book in the Secret Heirs of Powerful Men series – please visit Maisey Yates’ website here.

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Anxiety: The Gateway To Jason Statham

I’m on a train. By myself. For the first time in possibly over ten years. I should be enjoying the alone time. As a mum, wife, Kindergarten teacher, and cat owner, I am not often alone.

Instead, I’m remembering my action movie training and am sitting in the second car of the train. If it crashes the first car will dangle off a bridge and this one will be fine. I’ll then be able to launch myself through the resulting explosion up to an escape hatch in the bathroom, climb out, and meet an awaiting ladder hanging from a hovering helicopter.

Jason Statham will of course be piloting the helicopter. Not because of any particular skill at helicopter piloting, more for the interlude we’ll have later when we get to our safe house after driving speedily through Europe in an Audi.

Huh? Where was I?

So my question is, does my brain do this to me or for me? Is it messing with me, or is it trying to distract me? Is my anxiety helping me get through this situation by engaging my faculties in a replay of several of my favourite action movies? Or, am I just suffering anxiety over a seemingly inconsequential event due to life events pre programming me to respond to stimuli in specific ways?

Discuss.

Also, I live in Australia and drive a Ford. My husband’s name is Jason though. That’s something.

X Angelina.

An aside: Isn’t modern technology amazing? I’m on a train, writing a blog on an iPhone, holding more technology in my hand than there probably was on the whole train in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. I’m keeping an eye out for chefs practiced in martial arts. Can’t be too careful.