The Fulfillment Series

The Fulfillment Series

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

YouTube, Readings, Family, and More...

I have a feeling this post will be filled with a little bit of randomness because that's what I'm good at. In my last post, I talked about Illogicon and some upcoming cons and author events we have scheduled, and I mentioned a YouTube video of Deek and me reading our first chapters. Well, it's live!! You can check it out on our Rhewination site here!

Illogicon 2017

Speaking of readings, Deek recorded a the first chapter of 122 Rules, and you can listen to that here! Let me just warn you...strap in! Prepare for a sexy voice AND a total thrill ride of a story!! PS. If you're interested in learning how to do this type of recording yourself, he'll be writing a how-to post soon, so keep an eye out for that!

So, you may (or may not--LOL) have noticed I've been a little MIA on the blog lately. I usually try to do one post a week, but something has happened that made me miss a few deadlines. On MLK Day, my dad went in to have a stint put into his heart. When they got in there, they saw a lot of blockage (up to 90%) in some arteries, so they elected to do a quadruple bypass right then and there.

That's my Dad, former Marine, and my lovely Mom!

I called Deek, and I'm not even sure what I said. I just know I was a blubbering mess of random words and tears. Now, here's where my husband shows me he's the best guy ever and loves me beyond beyond. Since we only have one car, which I had at the time, he asked a coworker to drive him home. About fifteen minutes after I called him, he walked through the door and wrapped me up in his arms. And then he made sure I got to the hospital to sit with my mom ASAP. He spent the day comforting me and my mom and making sure we had anything we might need or want while we waited. He did exactly what I needed without me even having to ask. I can't even begin to tell you how much that meant to me! And a big shoutout to his teammate Jen for racing him home to be with me! <3

I am SOOOOO thankful for this man. He is incredibly, mind-blowingly giving and loving.
I can't get over how lucky I am to be his wife!!

My father came through the surgery with flying colors, but he had a lot of trouble waking up afterward. We hung in limbo for three days waiting for him to wake. And thank goodness, he did. So, nearly every day since MLK Day, Deek and I have been at the hospital supporting my mom and encouraging my dad. He's moved out of cardiac ICU and into cardiac rehab, and he's doing exceptionally well. I am BEYOND relieved he pulled through and is on the path to recovery! 

When you're at the hospital daily, you have to find things to entertain you...

My brother drove down to visit my dad again on Sunday.
Jay and I had the best time talking and laughing with my parents and brother.
I can't tell you how grateful I am to still be able to talk and laugh with my dad!

Between PaPa (my grandpa) and my dad's illnesses, it's been quite a time since this summer. I think I have the layouts of two separate hospitals memorized. And I tell you, if I never see the inside of the hospital again, it will be too soon. 

Here's an interesting fact we learned though: weight training is super important. My dad lifted and boxed when he was a Marine, and because of that, his bones resemble that of someone twenty years younger. The doctors could not believe how "young" his bones were when they went in to cut the sternum for surgery, and the youthfulness of his bones wills aid dramatically in his healing. Deek has always been a big lifter, but he said he's going to redouble his efforts after that tidbit of info from the cardiologist. And don't think lifting is just for the boys. Get into that gym and lift heavy things, ladies! Research shows lifting is very beneficial for staving off osteoporosis! 

Girl power. Get lifting, ladies!

Well, hello there hawt man! <3

Until next time, wishing health and happiness for you and yours!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

IllogiCon 2017

Before I begin, don't forget to head over to Deek's blog and enter for your chance to win a SIGNED copy of his book Birth!!

And now for our regularly schedule blog...

Deek and I knew we wanted to get more involved on the ComicCon scene when we moved back to the East Coast. Thankfully, our friend Chrissy Lessey hooked us up with our first one, Crystal Coast Con, back in October. From there, we met Josh Leone, and he told us about IllogiCon. We applied and were accepted to sell our books, speak on panels, and do a reading!! WOOT! Talk about the mother load of wonderfulness!!

Well, fast forward to a week before the Con. Our area is braced for a massive storm, which ended up mostly being ice. Now, I hate to be snowed in. I hate to be "stuck" at my house. Not that I have anywhere to go per se, but I'd like to have the option should I decide to. Well, I thought being stuck would be the worst thing to happen. But no...I contracted the Martian death flu. While the timing sucked, I thought I'd surely be better by the time the Con came around. And the illness lingered and lingered until we ended up missing the first day and my first panel. <sad face>

An aside: Just a little side note to say, Deek took the BEST care of me while I was sick. You know how people say "in sickness and in health" when you get married? Well, he meant it. Thank you, baby!! <3

Gus had no idea what to make of the "snice" (ice with a little snow on top)

Martian Death Flu

By Saturday, I'd healed enough to engage with the public, but I still had no energy and no appetite. As a participant in a Con, you have to be "on"--fun, engaging, and chatty. Somehow, I managed to find the energy, but I totally crashed at night once we got home.

Time to lie in bed with my Cindy Lou Who hair and recover

Despite the initial health setbacks, we had a TOTAL blast at the Con. We got to meet some amazing people, speak on panels, do a reading, and selling a bunch of books! Woot! Every time we go to a Con or author event, we're always fascinated by what people pick up. At Crystal Coast Con, Deek's 122 Rules ended up being the bestseller of all of our books. But this time, people went right to The Prophecy and Birth of an American Gigolo

Deek on his panel. They LOVED him--as all people who have good taste do! ;)

I had a total blast on my panels, but I particularly loved talking historical fiction! 

At our booth.
 I got my very own special card with my name on it and a list of all my panels on the back!

He's ready to talk books!
He got a special card too, but it's not pictured.

There were amazing costumes and cosplay!
Meet "Dr. Stranger Things"

Mon Mothma
She was not only on it cosplay wise but also a super lovely person!

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Deek and I at our booth

We don't have any photos our reading because we read together, but we will have a YouTube video of it soon (thanks the awesome folks at IllogiCon)! 

If you've never been to a Con, I highly encourage you to go. The atmosphere is great, the people are great, and you'll have a ball! Deek and I got great leads on upcoming Cons, so you can expect to see us do several more of these throughout the year. Also, we'll be at the Roanoke Author Invasion in April, so check us out there if you're in the area!!

And can I just say...I'm the luckiest girl in the world to get to live my author dream with my best friend by my side. I'm so thankful Deek and I share the same passion and enjoy the same things. Having him with me at these Cons makes them a thousand times more fun. I get to see him interact with fans and other authors, and I get this swell of pride in my chest because I'm so darn proud of him and to be with him. He's everything I could have ever wanted and more!

I love you, Deek!!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thoughts for the New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!! Deek and I had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and we hope you did too!! 2017, baby!

Christmas kisses

Dancing to Lionel Richie on New Year's Eve. 
Deek had a cold and didn't feel particularly well, but he still danced with me. <heart eyes>

I had planned to do this whole "Here's Our Christmas" post with some reflections of the past and looking forward to the future, but then I came across an article. And after reading this article (it's at the bottom of the page), I knew I needed to blog about it.

In October, for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I wrote about my past experience in a domestically violent relationship. You can read about that here.

To expound up on that, I'd like to speak, in particular, to women of faith in abusive relationships. Deek says I should write a book about my experiences, and maybe I will. But writing and publishing take a long time, and some of you need to hear these words now. So here it goes.

I'm Southern, and I grew up in very devout family in the middle of the Bible Belt. When I was a little girl, I used to sit at the kitchen table and listen to my Mema sing songs about Jesus while she cooked. I went to Christian school during my last few years of high school, and though my college broke from the Southern Baptist Convention, I still had to take religion classes as part of my general education. In fact, I took so many that I have a minor in Religious Studies. I've led Bible studies, taught children's church, and directed church Christmas plays. To say religion and faith have had a big influence in my life and upbringing would be an understatement.

Me with my grandparents, who'd come to visit me at college
 (excuse the squinty eyes--bright sunshine)

I got married at a young age, ready to start my wonderful little Christian adult life. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the boy I'd married was not what he'd claimed. Yep. You read that right.

I was married before Deek.

I am divorced.

I am remarried (spoiler alert: I'm remarried to the greatest man who's ever lived, so this story has a happy ending).

If you're like me and have grown up in a religious community, you can appreciate how hard it is for me to even utter the words "I am divorced," much less put them in a blog for the world to read. When I got married that first time, I intended it to be forever. My own biological parents are divorced (spoiler alert: my mom remarried, and I call that man my dad because he IS my dad--biology has no bearing on that). And although I am eternally grateful to have my dad in our lives, I never wanted to follow that path and be divorced.

Me and my beautiful Mama on her wedding day

But I'd married someone who purported to be one thing and ended up being another. So, I was stuck in a bad place, in a bad life. For years, I tried to make the best of it. I gave being a proper Christian wife the good, ole college try. I threw my whole self into making him happy and creating a nice home. But nothing made him happy, and our lives spiraled into dark, disturbing places.

Now, as a Christian woman, I was told to "never speak ill of my husband" and to "submit to him." I was told my body was his to do with as he pleased. So, I felt like I didn't have a voice. On the outside, I smiled and pretended everything was great, as I'd been instructed to do, but on the inside, I was dying. I was losing myself and being forced to do things I abhorred.

The fake smiles that I used to try to hide the truth about my life.

I joined a Bible study with a group of wonderful women. Our leader, whom I adored, told us we could tell the truth about ourselves and our lives in this group, and we built a circle of trust. As women in the group shed their masks and shared about eating disorders, their husband's pornography addiction, and other real truths about their lives, I opened up and shared one small thing--testing the waters. At the next meeting, the pastor stormed into the room and told us our Bible study was over. He said we'd been speaking ill of our husbands and could no longer meet, and he forced our Bible study leader to leave the church. All the women in the group were told to read a new book, about being better wives. This book said that we should not expect our husbands to change, so we should change ourselves instead.

Having attempted to speak out about my life and being summarily, and epically, shut down, I clammed up even more. And as a young woman of faith, I took the book's words to heart and tried to change myself. Every time my husband did something awful, I tried to turn it into a positive in my mind. And I died a little more inside. But instead of showing how much I hurt, how much that life was slowly killing me, I smiled and said nice things about the man who constantly hurt me. If you asked any of my friends about me at that time, they'd tell you they knew something was wrong in my life, but I always had a smile and an upbeat attitude.

As the days and years passed, and the violence escalated, I could no longer keep up the smiles. Every time I imagined my life in one year, five years, ten years, twenty years, the sheer weight of the depression that notion caused almost crushed me. But I stayed because good wives stay. Because my beliefs told me divorce was a terrible sin.

But it got harder to force those smiles.

One day, the violence spilled over into a new area, and I realized I faced a real life or death situation in our marriage. And I chose life. Now, let me say, my friends (many of whom are Christians) embraced my choice and rejoiced in the fact that I'd gotten to safety. And my family supported me wholeheartedly because they'd seen my fake smiles and had known something was wrong, but they hadn't known how to help me. In fact, my Mema (the one who sang all the Jesus songs when I was a little girl) told me, "God wouldn't have wanted you to keep living like that."

Despite their outpouring of love, I still felt ashamed I hadn't been able to keep my marriage together, to be a "good," long-suffering Christian wife. And I felt an overwhelming sense of failure.

Over the last few years, I've been talking to other survivors and to women who are trying to bring attention to domestic abuse in churches. And I've come to realize we all have similar stories of staying way past the point we should have because our religious convictions and community structures kept us there.


So, I'd like to speak to women of faith right now...women of all patriarchal faiths, not just Christianity. Please, read this article and understand that you don't have to stay, and if you've already left, know you are a brave warrior for having made that hard choice.

You are NOT alone. There are others like you. Be strong. Be safe.

There are many, many agencies set up to help women get out of domestic violence. They can point you in the direction of lawyers and law enforcement to protect you. Here are some (but be sure to check the ones in your local area):

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Battered Women's Justice Project:
Futures Without Violence:
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence:

(Keep scrolling to see my REAL smile, brought about by the sheer joy of my life now)

Wedding photo shoot w/Deek

Deek and I got married twice, for both sets of families on opposite coasts. 
At the second wedding, my PaPa walked me down the aisle!

Caught in a downpour

Deek makes me smile so big I think my face will crack! <3