One Word

What is One Word?

Essentially, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, One Word is a word you divine from the universe to guide you through the year. In past years, I’ve had simplicity and patience, for example. Check out Jon Gordon to get all the details.

Finding my word

This year, I really struggled to find my WORD. I felt completely blank about it over the weeks I was trying to be open to hear it. When I realized the word wasn’t blasting through my head like it had in previous years, I paid more attention to the constant feeling I had about it. Following this vague sense, I looked up and researched through my limited vocabulary down a deep rabbit hole.

First, it was INTENTION

Intention was where I started. But that wasn’t focused enough.

Intention to attention… but that’s more than one word, and not exactly what I felt.
I needed intention to relate more with sourcing my purpose, with ensuring I take action towards a goal that is wise and fitting and not ruled by pride and ego.


I’ve read that yoga can mean “work.” Intentional action. So, I started looking up definitions of yoga. At this point, I was pretty sure YOGA was my WORD, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just creating something of my own making from the hints the universe handed out.

Yoga: a union between the self and the divine, or more accurately to realize my identity with the Divine; to know and tune into my intrinsic nature.

No, that doesn’t sound terrifying at all.

Yoga is (according to Patanjali):

Equanimity of mind in success and failure.
Discretion in work.
The remover of misery and destroyer of pain.
The most supreme self.
Serenity.
The giver of infinite happiness.
Complete control over patterns or modifications of the mind.

Yoga is a lot. Much more than ONE WORD. So, I kept digging, trying to slim this all-encompassing way into a piece I could focus on. The YAMAS is where I found my WORD.

SATYA

…”absolute truth”, but Satya also refers to the virtue of being honest in thoughts, in actions and in words during everyday life…

https://styleoga.it/en/meaning-satya-yoga/

Impeccable truth. Clear, truthful intention. Satya is my One Word.

The actual doing…

Of course, how to go about achieving even the slimmest level of this is my current task. Journaling has become my job this last week as I try to dissect my brain patterns, try to cess out the things that make me not be SATYA (is it a verb? can it be a verb?) and find a way towards it.

Have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them. I’d especially love to hear if you have a word to focus on for the year.

Book Review: Verity

Book Review

Verity

By Colleen Hoover

psychological thriller, romantic suspense
3.5 stars

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night her family was forever altered.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents could devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue loving her.

This was my first Colleen Hoover novel. I really think I fell into that over-hype-ruined-my-experience experience with this one. I’d heard so much about the ‘crazy twist,’ that I spent too much time trying to find it. I don’t really do that as I read. I don’t like to make reading a job; I just want to be caught up in the story and let it happen.

Still, right away, I was curious. I was eager to read. At 40%, I was in it; properly tense, flipping pages, excited to continue forward. By 65%, I was a little like, ‘okay, got it, can we move on to the next phase, please.‘ I may have done a little skimming at this point… This is where my rating fell off. When a book feels tedious to read, for any amount of time, stars fall.

When I reached the end, I was satisfied. I hate not knowing if my less-than-5-star-review had to do with this hyped-anticipation that forced me to read with an over-analytical eye. This is why I try not to watch movie previews anymore (ever since Terminator 2 when they ruined the big reveal by telling you ahead of time–I still haven’t gotten over that).

If you like psych thrillers mixed with romantic suspense, this is a good one. Just read it without trying to figure it all out ahead of time. Just let it come. Unless, of course, that’s your thing. If it is, It’s still worth the read.

Happy Reading 🙂

I’ve started a Facebook group to talk about books. If you have anything to say about this book or any others, come join. I am always looking for people to talk books with. Click here to join.

From the Start…

From my own experience and from what I often hear from other writers, there’s a tete-a-tete that happens between what we want/think our stories should be, and what the story itself has in mind. Right away, when writing KILLING GAME, that became my truth. Daniel was meant to die from the outset–this much necessary point to show Desiree the severity of her situation, and the even more daunting idea of consequence–but continued to live. Dimitri came to life to force that point when the first character refused to stick to his script. So much of that happens in so many stories I hear about. These tales have a life of their own, and any good creator allows them their necessary space.

Sometimes, an idea just isn’t that great. Sometimes, the market knows best.

I purposefully wrote Rishi’s Wish sans a real love interest. Sure, it’s one of the main points that makes Urban Fantasy what it is, but I decided I didn’t want to use it. At least not right away. I wanted this clueless girl to stumble and fall and pick herself up on her own. I wanted her to figure out that playing meek and quiet wasn’t a sure path to the right thing just falling into her lap. Does she receive help along the way? Sure. Are there those who wish they were in a relationship with her? Yes, but it’s not the main focus of the story. Not even the third focus.

Even so, reader feedback showed me these love connections are so important. While I’d wanted the romance to stay periphery, comments suggest this is an impossibility. I have team-Hamal and team-Daniel conversations frequently. Readers want Dee to fall in love.

There is a quick almost-togetherness in book 1. Hamal does pine. Daniel has doubts. Pollux shows interest. Maybe I did lay the groundwork more than I meant to…

This quote from book 1 sums up what I was trying to say. Ironically, this scene got cut:

“Careful your solitude doesn’t create emotional ties that wouldn’t exist if given other circumstances.”

-Daniel to Dee, cut scene from KILLING GAME

That’s ultimately why I never tie these characters together. I was pointing out how not real, or if you don’t like that, how situational their feelings are. Hamal is the only person Dee has ever met with who she can discuss the strange things happening to her. He’s the only person she knows that can truly help her. He’s the only one who’s ever given her any information.

When Dee is further isolated, Daniel is the only one to talk to. While she never sees him as more than a friend, her uniqueness pulls Daniel towards her. Just as that same oddity pulls everyone near her close. Is she some amazing personality people can’t help but love? Gods, no. She rarely shows her personality, so busy toeing the line, hiding, afraid someone will decide to kill her. That no one knows what to make of her, that no one knows how to interpret what they think of her, these feelings are mistaken for like, lust, and in some cases, love.

Not forever though

There is a love story intertwined here, but it doesn’t start to show its face until Born To Die. Hopefully, readers won’t be too mad at me for this, after having their hopes pegged on one or another character. Dee still has a ways to go. She still has to decide which path to walk. Not until then will she be ready to sit with someone as her partner.

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Book Review: The Space Between Worlds

Book Review

The Space Between Worlds

By: Micaiah Johnson
4.5 Stars

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this dystopian Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now what once made her marginalized has finally become an unexpected source of power. She has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world but the entire multiverse.

You had me at Multiverse.

This book really did have fabulous characters and a smart world. Cara was fun to follow, and even more fun to cheer on. After finishing this book, I wanted to go back in and see all I’d missed the first time through (it’s back on my TBR).

A great journey into what we think we’ll do for personal gain, then what we decide when family and our self-respect are on the line. Cara faces this, must decide to stay the course to earn her climb up the ladder, or risk it all to do what’s right.

And, multiverse… I know for me, there was nothing else to say.

Happy Reading 🙂
~CMM

Book Review: Empire of Dragons

Book Review

Empire of Dragons, Cursed Empire: Book 1

By Rachel Schade

YA fantasy, royal/guard, enemies to…, betrayed, morally grey
5 Stars

One empire. An age-old hatred. Two girls risk everything—even their souls—for their people.

Revenge failed her…

After slaying the former empress, Lo vowed to never kill again. But when her path crosses with a mysterious thief, she begins to work as a vigilante—and to develop forbidden feelings—leaving her with an impossible choice.

Revenge fuels her…

Since her mother’s death, Jalie has been a hopeless prisoner in her own palace. Until a goddess grants her a brutal gift that could be the key to her freedom…if she can get past the soldier tasked with guarding her. As tension brews between them, he challenges everything she’s ever believed about her enemies.

There are two ways to get me to read a book. Say time-travel or say dragons. I dropped my entire TBR to read this dragon book, and I was not disappointed.

There is no “good” guy in Empire of Dragons, and I love it for that. The slow burn, forbidden royal/guard subplot was perfectly crafted, and the other–well, I had all the feels for the poor sod who just couldn’t undo past decisions. At least, that’s how I looked at it. While I didn’t necessarily like Lo, I appreciated her story, and her twitchy thief was the perfect compliment to her.

Excellent world-building, with just the right amount of magic to make it fun. I appreciated the direct god-sourced power and the tease of a possible conflict between said gods that may or may not be influencing events (this is just my reading too far between lines I have no business peering at. We’ll see if I’m even close or over-examing).

The conflict is real. It’s complicated. Each character is both right, and wrong, in their view of events, and the world. Each of them is stuck in the worldview of their own personal trauma. And isn’t that true of all of us? The only way I see this working out without everyone dying is for them to swallow their pride and look at everyone with the same compassion they expect for themselves. This is why I love fantasy. Looking at real issues–real, everyday events–just with dragons.

The next book in the series is one I’m genuinely looking forward to. Luckily, I only have a few more weeks to wait. If you love fierce female characters with angsty-forbidden love undertones, dragons, and systemic conflict, pick up Rachel Schade‘s Cursed Empire series.

Happy Reading 🙂