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You – Your Best Novel

I’ve always heard, “Do one thing, and do it well.” This seems to be a common word of advice for those who seek “success” from the greats spanning over centuries. Unfortunately for me, this advice just doesn’t compute; my heart rebels against the supposed logic.

I just can’t understand how so many people view many things as being “either/or” instead of “this and this”. Why in the world do we limit ourselves, especially in this age of mass-consumption? I for one would love to overindulge on the things that make me feel wonderful and happy on this planet, and enable me to bring joy and positivity to others in the process.

For some people, maybe there’s also something satisfying about doing more than one thing simultaneously.  Besides, when you look more closely at the biographies of all of these greats, you’ll see that most of the time, only in RETROSPECT does it appear as though they took a linear path to reach the moment when they achieved success.

Believe me, even the greatest had to go through the process of figuring things out. They couldn’t have all been stellar 24/7 throughout their entire lives. No, they had ups and they had downs; they encountered times of doubt and confusion just like all of us. The things that make them stand out are the times when they felt like we often do when we’re not feeling so brilliant. What did the greats do in those times? They persevered. They kept going. Did they know where they were going? Of course not! But they knew where they wanted to be.

Think about it: No one really wants a biography that lasts only a page or two. You want your life to fill an entire book! Every single experience that we have, mistake that we make, or dream that we discover, pursue, and attempt to fulfill is yet another page in our own individual biography.

May every entry that you make be filled with adventure, courage, lessons, and love.

A Bird in the Hand…

If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that I’m posting pretty much every Tuesday. You probably also know that I’m running back and forth between a stay-or-go situation. I’d love for this to be the plot of a book, but in this case, it’s my life.

We all know the saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” While I’m grateful for the opportunities I have, I also think that holding onto something just because it’s convenient and familiar isn’t always the best or healthiest thing.

What if the bird in your hand is puny? What if it’s not your kind of bird at all? Why stick with the same thing if you know that you’re not receiving the full benefits of your abilities – or your potential?

I think that there’s a time and a place to know when to stick with what you’ve got and when you need to look further.

What kind of plots would romance novels have if they went along the lines of the Bird in the Hand mentality? They’d probably end something like this…

“Connie knew that Ben was an okay kind of guy. There were no sparks, but hey, he was there. Why should she aim for something that may or may not happen – real love? No, Connie had Ben, and she would play it safe. Because he was familiar and convenient, she stayed with him and married him. The end.”

Sorry, folks – unless you’re a literary genius, that’s not likely to be any kind of bestseller. And honestly, I really feel sorry for Ben. He deserves more than someone who “settles” for him. Connie deserves to take a chance at finding happiness.

When it comes to following your passions and seeking fulfillment in all that you do, holding yourself back can’t possibly be the way to go.

Second Guessing Second Chances

Remember when you were small and at one point in your very young life, you knew exactly what you were going to “be”? Well, I remember the day when it happened to me. I was seven years old and quite convinced that I would become a teacher. But are we limited to having just one?

It’s a confusing, humbling experience when you discover your calling. You may stumble upon it, you might have to fight for it, or you just might know what it is years in advance and just expect to fall into it eventually, like I did. One way or another, it just happens.

It’s a much more fragmented, painful process when you realize that a dream, an ideal that you once birthed and have cultivated for years, is dying. What was once vibrant, something that fed your soul while you simultaneously gave your all to anyone willing to accept, is now a shell. It’s hollow and devoid of meaning – not because you’ve stopped giving your all, but because realize that you’re surrounded by takers – black holes that passively drain you of your shimmer, consuming the sacred inner glow that lights up your spirit and inspires you to guide others.

What do you do? How does one cope during this slow painful death? My goal is to let go, let God, and move on.

Romancing the Mundane

It’s the kind of magic that only a truly gifted writer can do. Sure, we’re all used to the fairytale set up of boy meets girl, they’re either best friends or they’ve grown up together, and then suddenly, the fateful day arrives when one of them sees the other in an entirely different light, and their world is never the same again.

These stories are beautiful. They make us think of a time when the life that lay before us was full of possibility, and love was this powerful, inevitable force that we were destined to reckon with sooner or later. For whatever reason, the Right Person would likely run into us when we were late running an errand as some grunt in the Big City, or this elusive attractive fellow would keep coincidentally show up everywhere the sweet, but plucky country girl happens to be. And then the magic happens.

But what about the stories for when life has hit the characters in the face with a frying pan, and they’re just making it? I understand the concept of escapism, but wouldn’t it be sort of hilarious and fantastic if a story about two volunteers in a nursing home hit it off? No one is a billionaire, no one is “torn” or “broken”. They’re just folks.

But we really want something special, don’t we? We want to see ourselves, elevated.

It takes a special lense to filter out the grit of everyday life, and embellish our common, unexpressed desires in a way that somehow makes us feel whole as we live vicariously through people who are like us, but are not us.

That, dear readers, is Romance.

Be Cool, Baby. Be Cool.

So, I just need to put this here for myself more than for anyone else. It’s so strange to move from an age where dreams totally felt like they were just pending goals to be accomplished, to a state of being where reality tries to stab the heart of every dream I desperately hold on to.

Maybe it’s me getting older, or perhaps it’s merely the fact that I’ve always been a “realistic optimist”, but the truth remains – sometimes it’s just too damn hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Who knows? Maybe there’s a cave-in or a detour right before you get to the end of it.

Still, my radiant inner child refuses to be laid low; she keeps telling me to BELIEVE. The hope in my heart is worth the struggle, the doubt, confusion, and constantly hearing the pitiful lie that my darkest voice whispers in my thoughts – I’ve let myself and everyone else down by insisting upon following this one persistent dream.

It takes a Herculean effort to squash the doubt and weariness in my heart, to slap yet another “What if…” directly in the face with an “I can do all things through Christ…” reminder. It’s hard to get back up, find motivation and be inspired when your most influential 24/7 365 cheering team member consists only of the person staring back at you in the mirror.

It’s lonely, it’s hard. It’s scary, and it’s inevitable.

Perhaps you know what I mean when I talk about the feeing of compulsion. No matter what the odds are, and even if I stand alone, this is something that I MUST do. It’s the path that I have to take in order to feel as close to fulfillment in this life as I can imagine. So I may as well finally get over being so damn angsty about my life and just be f-ing cool about it. It’s time to wrap this frigging series up; the clock is ticking.

Be cool, baby. Be cool.

J. G. Wentworth Commercials…

Are a special kind of hell.

It’s like they know that no matter what tv channel you’re watching, they will find you. And the worst part is that even if you mute the commercial, it’s still going to play along in your head – word for word, note for note.

They show you no mercy.

Even when I went on an errand this morning, I found myself happily humming to “… I have an annuity, but I need cash now…”. I HADN’T EVEN BEEN WATCHING TV. FFS.

Honestly, if they were to put as much effort into making a song that promotes world peace or encourages general acts of kindness and consideration, and if they played it as often as they play their painfully memorable jingles, the world would definitely be a better place.

“Thoughts and Prayers”

There’s a time and a place to feel confident about how you express yourself, and then there’s a time to embrace doubt. I think that my time to doubt how I should be expressing myself on pressing subjects is today. It’s not a matter of finding the right words; even the most bumbling celebrities or politicians are able to maneuver their ways through uncomfortable conversations (whether or not they do it successfully is subjective). Today, though, I just question the real power of our words, and the POSITIVE impact that they can make on us collectively. So, full disclosure: this a VENT, a RANT, and has elements of bossy preachiness. But writing this is more of a cathartic process, and I’ve followed my own advice to the best of my ability. Hopefully, I’ll be able to concentrate on happier subjects next week, but I need to get this off of my chest.

As much as we seek and crave escapism (and obviously, as an author, I am a proponent of this), far too many people are leaning heavily on the intricate fabricated lives and worlds of superheroes, lavish ladies, or impeccably handsome billionaire singles to whisk them away from reality. Our real-world problems are getting larger and more brutal – thanks to both nature and humans. Instead of focusing efforts on and bringing attention to the acute needs of real people on Planet Earth (i.e. clean water, food, and medical supplies for victims in Mexico and Puerto Rico and continued support for families in Florida and Texas), many of us are being persuaded to buy the latest generations of iPhones for around $1,000 or more – when our current phone is perfectly fine; or we spend our free time binge-watching whatever, thereby becoming even more disassociated with what’s happening in our world. When is enough enough?

It annoys me to feel the need to clarify that this isn’t a “political post”. This is a post about humanity. If you haven’t got money to spare to help anyone in need (not limited to the above-mentioned; I know that the “world” extends beyond North America and Central America), then please take the time to truly send out some positive vibes to humanity. I know that it’s become a “thing” to mock or even feel offended by those who say that they’re sending “thoughts and prayers” to people who are hurting (like to everyone tragically affected in Las Vegas). To a certain extent, I can certainly understand why. For many, it has become a cliché. For others though, it may not be.

Even if the words seem futile and trite, let those people who believe in their worth hold onto some sibilance of hope and faith. If thoughts and prayers mean nothing to you, then that’s your thing. Be a person of action and dig deep into your pockets and give cash, and/or roll up your sleeves and get to work helping in whatever way you can. For those who are thinking and praying, when you’re finished, get up off of your knees, tithe the best way you can, and help your neighbors world-wide. Regardless of your beliefs or opinions, reach out to others in the real world in a positive way. Offer a smile, or simply say hello to someone passing your way. These are two small ways to reconnect with real people who may feel just as lonely and scared as you might be feeling. Positive communication is the key. If you’ve read this far, then thank you, and much love.

Rant over.

Free E-Book (Coming Soon)

I've teased about this before, dear readers, but I assure you that it's on its way soon!

This e-book will be completely free, and involves characters from my first romantic series (due in 2019). It should be out by the end of this year.

Stay tuned, and I'll keep you posted. ❤

Five Dirty Facts About Love

Of all the things that we’ve been taught about love, it’s the unspoken things that we end up learning the hard way. If only someone had told us about the beautiful parts – and the kind of gritty parts in between.

Don’t get me wrong; I know that we could go off on a philosophical or theological tangent and debate whether or not there is any impurity in the purest form of love… But here, I’m just talking about your regular Joe Blow and Susie Q falling in love and trying to make the pieces fit. In one way or another, a tender part of us is broken, and we’re looking for someone (or something) to help put those pieces together. While thinking about what some of my characters are going through, it made me think about these five dirty facts about love.

1. Love is Selfish.

I’m a person of faith, and I know that this sentence seems to contradict what many of us have been taught. Bear with me here. Let’s just say that it’s not Love that is selfish, but we, the people who love, are. When we’ve finally found someone who will put up with our crap and other idiosyncrasies, we’ll be a monkey’s uncle before we’re willing to let go if that person. Free love for all? You’re not going to find many romance novels with that happening. It’s all or nothing, baby.

2. Loving Someone Doesn’t Always Feel Good.

This is sad, but true. Just think of Heathcliff and Catherine. I honestly can’t recall a more miserable couple. Nevertheless, you can’t deny that love between them existed.

3. Not Everyone is Happy that You’ve Found Someone.

A fact that is one of the harder pills to swallow, but a fact none-the-less. People have a tendency to wait for the nasty turn at the end of the corner, the strange plot twist where everything falls to hell in a hand basket, even after you’ve found yourself rooting for them up until then. Are we all so jaded and cynical that we can’t believe in simple happy endings anymore?

4. Sometimes, When You’re Looking for Love, It Becomes An Asshole Playing Hide and Seek With Your Heart.

How many of us have been there, or know someone who’s been there? It doesn’t matter who you are, how famous you are or how much money you make – when you fall in love – I mean, REALLY fall in love with someone – you have been laid low. You can’t resist it, and you couldn’t change a thing if you tried. In many romantic stories, you’ll find that the billionaire is bewitched by the untrained Executive Assistant who just happened to land the coveted position through a temp agency. In real life, it’s more like the person who can’t stay away from someone who isn’t good for them, even if they are cognitively aware of that fact.

5. Loving Takes a Lot of Your Time and Energy

Let’s face it, when you’re spending hours a day thinking about someone, and then spending the rest of your time with that person, you’re devoting a lot of time to one person. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, per se – but it sure is time consuming.

Love isn’t all that bad.

If these are the only dirty things that I can think of about love, then maybe it’s not so bad after all. Just remember that every love story has a beginning – and the end always remains unwritten.

Shades of Gray (Start of a Short Story)

No, this has nothing to do with the infamous 50. This is just the start of another short story. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Things were not going as planned. Based on the timeline, Rebecca should have been a happily married mother of two with a stellar career that was on a rising trajectory. Instead, she was single, working a dead-end job where no one noticed her, much less remembered her name or recognized her contributions to the company.

It seemed as though her lot in life was to remain faceless, invisible to the world. Somehow, even though people only seemed to see her in shades of gray, deep down, Becca knew that she was as vibrant as a rainbow. Her personality was as multifaceted as the most intricate prism, yet inexplicably, so many aspects remained repressed within her.

As much as she longed for love and companionship, Becca didn't quite know how to reach out to others. How many times had she tried, only to be let down yet again by someone who just wanted to manipulate her? She was tired of being used, treated like a machine that was designed to produce desired results, serving without question and merely existing with no demands.

No feelings. No dreams. No desires.

"This is the end of the line, miss. You'll need to get out here, or change your direction." Startled by the booming timbre of the subway driver's voice, Becca instinctively curled up in a ball. She cringed when she noticed the kind man's reaction.

"I didn't mean to startle you, miss. Believe me, I won't hurt you." The driver took two steps back and held up his hands to prove that he was harmless. Quickly, she shook her head, hating the heated blush of embarrassment that warmed the back of her neck and pale cheeks.

"No sir, it was my mistake. I wasn't paying attention. Thank you." Gathering her backpack and art supplies, she nearly tripped as she rushed out of her seat and beyond the closing doors. She couldn't muster the courage to glance back at the driver, though she could feel his pity for her radiating from his direction.

The scars. If they had only been internal, she could have coped more easily, reintegrated herself into society without the burden of her existence being broadcast on her delicate skin. But when had life ever given her a break?

Later that night, the words of the subway driver replayed in her mind. "This is the end of the line, miss. You'll need to get out here, or change your direction."

She couldn't go on living like this. As hard as she'd fought for it in the past, there was no way that she was going to give up on life itself. Only one option remained – changing the direction her life was going.

But how?

Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to seeing where this story leads me. Follow me, Atina Atwood on Facebook and @realatinaatwood on Twitter, for more fun, random posts, and occasionally something amazing.

Story (Quick Read) – What Do You Think?

I had a free half an hour (God bless nap time!), so I thought I'd start a little story. Young Adult novella, PG-rating, sweet romance. Let me know what you think in the comments.

She was the silent type. It would have been an awesome and somewhat mystical trait if she had also been strong, but she wasn't. Not yet.

For years, Alissa had been perfectly fine flying solo, and after that disastrous train wreck that she'd mistakenly called a relationship with Dax, being alone had been a good thing. She needed to heal; she was determined to remember to love herself before she tried loving anyone else.

Besides, she knew that when the time was right, her feelings and intuition would give her the courage to take action and move forward. Today, Ali knew that the time had come.

Squaring her shoulders and taking a deep breath, she held her head high as she advanced upon her target. This guy didn't know it, but a serendipitous hurricane was heading his way.


He felt her presence before he saw her. Nick had already memorized her features from her profile picture, so he took his time before looking up from the glare of his computer screen. He just barely resisted the urge to adjust the frame of his glasses with his thumb. Reviewing facts always calmed his nerves, so he ran through the shortlist of everything he thought he knew about her.

Her name was Ali, she was a junior, and she had long jet black hair (thanks to two $5 dye kits from the store, she'd confessed), and apparently had shapely legs that went on for miles and miles down to impatiently tapping feet that had an at-home, slightly rushed looking pedicure. Well, the last facts had been observations in real time.

Nick cleared his throat and willed his heart to stop beating in his ears like an obnoxious drum. During one of their late-night chats Ali warned him that she was a mess; yet even after he'd confessed his own shortcomings to her, she'd still been willing to show up at this random hipster cafe to actually meet him in person. She'd given him a chance, and he was already half in love with her for that small miracle alone.

He just hoped like hell he wouldn't blow it.

Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to seeing where this story leads me. Follow me, Atina Atwood, for more fun, random posts, and occasionally something amazing.

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