Another update…and a new release.

Hello lads and lassies.

It’s 10am and I’ve yet to have a cup of coffee, so hopefully this will be a coherent post. I’m going to try to remember everything, but if I miss something, I will address it next time. Promise.

VAMP CHRONICLES:

I know many of you have questions, and, unfortunately, I can’t answer them at the moment. I have nothing definitive to offer you as of this moment. Soon I will, hopefully. I have collected all of your questions, though, and am attempting to gather answers, which I know is cryptic, at best, but, I can’t do any better at the moment. Very soon. Very soon I will have the answers (hopefully) and will pass them all along to you.

As a reminder though, TOMORROW, OCTOBER 31st, Halloween, will be the FINAL day you can purchase any of the currently available Vamp Chronicles titles!

A few have asked for the order of the series; here it is:

1. Diary of a Vampeen – Available for Purchase through 10/31
2. Vamp Yourself for War – Available for Purchase through 10/31
3. Hit the Road Jack – Available for Purchase through 10/31
3 1/2. The Innocence of White (short story) – Available for Purchase through 10/31
4. Vamp Versus Vamp – Available for Purchase through 10/31
5. Darkness Falls – Available for Purchase through 10/31
5 1/2. Reflections – Available for Purchase through 10/31
6. Vigilante: Mel’s Story – Available for Purchase through 10/31
7. The Break of Dawn – Not Yet Released

ADULT TITLES:

I have a VERY large handful of titles that will be hitting Kindle Unlimited by tomorrow, October 31st. (Halloween is a big day for me this year.)

Even better, a lot of these titles are being thoroughly edited, re-written in places and expanded in others! Thus far, Merry Christmas to Me has been polished this way and I’m in the middle of doing the same with Curvosity. You will notice some brand new book covers along the way as well. So, get your Kindles ready. If you already own the book, you should have fun reading the updated version. If you don’t own the book yet, go snatch it up for FREE on Kindle Unlimited starting tomorrow!

Here is a list of books that will be hitting Kindle Unlimited:::
Note: All of the edits and updates will not take affect as quickly. By next week they should be updated, though.

SHORTS:
1. Stars and Sparks – an interracial BBW Independence Day short (bwwm)
2. Falling for Cupid – a BBW Valentine’s Day short
3. Her Xmas Present – a USA Today Bestselling BBW Christmas short
4. Merry Christmas to Me – a BBW Christmas short
5. Curvosity – a paranormal (werewolf) BBW Christmas short
6. Culinary Delight – a BBW culinary short
7. Speechless – Delphina’s – of Delphina Reads Too Much – favorite short of mine – a BBW vampire short
8. Hello Stranger – an interracial BBW short (wwbm)
9. Hot Flashes – a humorous BBW senior citizen short (no dirty scenes)

NOVELLA to NOVEL:
1. Summer Nights – an interracial BBW title with lots of sexy scenes between a curvaceous white woman and an extra delicious Puerto Rican
2. Hers (Snowy Mountain Wolves, Book 1) – a f/f paranormal (werewolf) BBW title that ends in a cliffhanger
3. Theirs (Snowy Mountain Wolves, Book 2) – a f/f/m paranormal (werewolf) BBW title that makes you smile wide by the end

NEW RELEASE ALERT:

I also happen to have a brand, spankin’ new title out, and it’s a little different from anything I’ve written so far…which could or couldn’t end well for me, depending on whether you lovely peeps like it.

Even better, it’s part of a box set, meaning you can get my new title, Vixen, PLUS 6 other stories for the super low price of $0.99! (That breaks down to less than $0.15 per title!)

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Inside you’ll find 70,000 words of erotic paranormal romance featuring shifters, ghosts, vampires, aliens and all sorts of sexy creatures that like to go bump in the night.

Tempted by Blood by Jacqueline Sweet—When the boy you love won’t give you what you need, maybe his evil twin will.

Knights in White Bondage by A. Regina Cantatis—An enchanted thrall and her Mistress visit a fetish resort, where they fascinate their fellow guests and attract the attention of a would-be knight in shining armor.

Forking Around by Audrey Lusk—When you see the world differently from everyone else, it takes something unseen to make it a less lonely place.

Mrs. Wong’s by Troy King—Take one jaded fixer, one mysterious young woman, a dash of magick, add a seedy dive, and mix thoroughly.

Spooked by Ruby Madden—When Clementine inherits an aging Victorian mansion from her late aunt, never did she suspect she’d uncover a mysterious secret about a lover from the past, brought to the present, in the form of a ghost.

A Dangerous Seduction by Heather Cole—Soledad has everyone fooled that she’s an ordinary librarian until a mysterious shapeshifter makes her want to reveal more than just her true identity.

Vixen by Christin Lovell—Plus size Jessickah Banderkoff is a bartender by day, a guardian to the Underworld’s Kingdom by evening, and the vampire king’s lover by night, but every good thing must come to an end, right?

BUY IT NOW or BORROW IT NOW:

Available for FREE via Kindle Unlimited!

AMAZON

I hope you all enjoy the new title, and enjoy the re-releasing titles all over again! There is a lot coming more coming your way very, very soon, too. Keep your eyes open and your Kindles ready, ladies and gents. – Christin

ANNOUNCEMENT.

Dear Vamp Chronicles Readers,

October 31st, 2014 will be the final day that you can purchase any of the titles in the Vamp Chronicles series.

You know that leap of faith I talked about? This is part of it.

Big changes are coming.

The entire Vamp Chronicles series is about to undergo a massive facelift. Every book in the series will be thoroughly edited, expanded (with brand new scenes), receive a new cover, and will be re-released in 2015 in rapid succession leading up to, and including, the final book in the series. The short stories will be taken away and tacked onto the previous, corresponding title in the series, and, overall, it will have a lot more detail and fluency before it is wrapped up with a pretty red bow.

When I started this series, I wasn’t even an author. I was a hopeful. Lexi was my ticket into the industry. She was the first character I ever wrote and published, the first character I ever truly loved, and the first character I’ve had to let go of in a true sense of the word. The last book is a farewell to everything I’ve known as a writer for the last four years.

In these last four years, though, I’ve grown tremendously and have really honed my craft. Honest moment: I cringe when I look back at the first book. Where I am now versus where I was then is like (looking at) night and day, and I just know the series can be even better than it already is.

So, I’m carving out the time to give it the love it needs.

The one thing I can promise, without a doubt, is that this series will return, and it will return with more for all of you to read, to enjoy, and (hopefully) to love.

On October 31st, 2014, the entire series will disappear from every vendor and distributor’s website along with my own. If there is a title you’ve been waiting to purchase, you will need to do it by October 31st, or wait until it is re-released in 2015. (Just to forewarn you, the pricing will not be the same in 2015.)

Good things are coming for this series! I am really nervous, but excited. This is a long time coming.

To those of you that would like to, hang in there! – Christin

Insignificant

There are moments when you realize that, in the grand scheme of things, you are quite insignificant. I feel insignificant. It’s not to say I’m incapable of being significant; it’s to say that I often feel insignificant.

So blessed.

Yet, so insignificant.

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When I began writing, my goal was to use my writing to fund charity work, to use my God-given talent to make a difference in this world, to leave a mark, to leave it a little better than when I arrived. I was young, ambitious, wide-eyed and hopeful. Despite all I’d endured in life, I still had hope.

These days, it feels like I’m fighting a losing battle.

There are days where I am frozen in place, staring at my children with a helpless ache in my chest.

How do you help a world that doesn’t want to help itself?

Most of us – myself included have the ability to do more, to be more.

Yet we aren’t. Yet we don’t.

And today I realized why.

FEAR.

I am so afraid of losing all I have, but, the hard truth is, we all lose it eventually.

I am so afraid of my children losing their stability, but, the hard truth is, they’ve already lost it.

My life has been ever-changing these last few months. One change after another has been happening, has been forced upon us, which has planted this seed in me, which has shaken me to the core and filled me with a new need, with a new desire that runs soul deep. It has me thinking of doing something drastic. It has me fired up and ready to do what I’ve been so afraid to do: to take a major leap of faith.

If there is anything I am overtly aware of these days, it is that: life is almost always shorter than we expect it to be. My mother died at 27. My father died at 30. My grandfather died at 55. My children’s grandmother died at 57. Marilyn Monroe died at 36. James Dean died at 24. Elvis Presley died at 42. Today, Joanne Borgella died at 32.

I’m 28.

Whether I have a few years remaining or half a century remaining, I will truly be insignificant if I don’t take risks, if I don’t make the most of every breath, if I don’t do what I set out to do originally, if I don’t fulfill my purpose. Writing was always meant to be the means. Art was always meant to be the expression. Giving was always what fulfilled me; doing was always what fulfilled me. We never gain by being selfish, and we never lose by giving it all we have.

We weren’t given eyes to see and not appreciate.

We weren’t given ears to hear and not listen.

We weren’t given a voice to speak and not advocate.

We weren’t given limbs to move and not do.

We weren’t given talents to possess and not use.

To this day, Gandhi said it best:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Am I narcissistic enough to believe that I alone can change my children’s lives, and the lives of their future generations? No. Am I narcissistic enough to believe that I can have a significant impact on the world at large and end some world problem? No.

To the world I am insignificant, but to one person, I can be significant.

To the world, I probably always will be insignificant, but to a community, I could be significant.

It’s all about what we choose to do versus what we choose not to do (in fear). We all have the choice to act or to watch other people act. It’s always been a choice, and it always will be.

What I’ve learned over the past few months is that we will always be lacking something. There are some things you can survive without, and some things you can’t. I can survive with a lot less than I realized…and I don’t miss it. I do feel like I will miss my window, miss my opportunity if I don’t take some hard leaps of faith right now, though.

So, I’m going for it. Because I can. Because I want to. Because I’m ready.

I’m ready to stop being insignificant.

Fall is here…sort of.

Earlier in the month, I ran a contest. I announced a lot of winners. Unfortunately, I am still waiting on a lot of addresses. Those of you who haven’t e-mailed me your address, please take a moment to do so. I’ve decided I’m not going to make the others who have sent their information over wait. I will be taking all of the envelopes and packages to the post office to be mailed today. If I don’t receive your address before I leave for the post office today, then your prize will not be mailed for at least another week. Please, please, please do take a moment to do that. Send your name and address to: christinlovell@gmail.com Please put your contest category in the subject field. (i.e. Contest Winner – Adult)

_-_-_-_

Living in Florida, it’s still hot and humid and miserable, but I do get excited this time of year. I love the potential the weather has to cool off. I love looking at photos of states further north, enjoy soaking in their beautiful fall foliage. I’m jealous. As happy as I am that fall is here, which brings the promise of heat relief in a couple months, I don’t have a true reason to wear Uggs or to sip a hot beverage unless I turn my air conditioner down to 65 degrees – which, being a Southerner, is definitely sweater weather. The saying is, “Fake it till you make it.” Unfortunately, there is no way to *make* Mother Nature do anything she doesn’t want, but a girl can dream. And I definitely dream about cooler days, longer nights and the holiday season.

Just because the weather is still sweltering here in Florida doesn’t mean the colds, flus and other crud of the season aren’t going around. I’ve been sick for the last 10 days, have gone through 2 antibiotics and have gained zero relief. I’m not alone. From interactions on social media, I know many others have hit the 10 day mark and are still fighting it. The strands of yuck are serious this year. I’ve been up and about doing as much as I can, but I’ve been operating on very little sleep. It’s one of those where every time I lay down, I suddenly can’t breathe…not that I can upright half the time either. I’m not complaining though. Best part is the kids haven’t gotten it. Roman started to show signs, but thankfully, it subsided after a day of lazing around with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Most of you aren’t aware of this, as I don’t openly advertise it, but I do social media and book cover art on the side. Any and every entrepreneur knows that you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. You need multiple streams of income because not everything is guaranteed. I’ve been doing more of that lately between writing. I also worked a 30 hour-a-week job for a little while. While writing is my primary career focus, I do have many other side jobs I juggle. I think any mother, wife, sister, breadwinner, does. There is no such thing as a vacation from reality. I do feel incredibly blessed to be where I am and have the opportunities that I do have. My life hasn’t been perfect, and the Lord knows I am far from perfect, but I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. I’ve been through what I have for a reason. Even on the days when I cry and ask the question of why over and over, I know He has a purpose.

You all have a purpose. We are all here for a reason. Life is not a straight and narrow path; it’s a winding road with constant terrain changes, constant bumps and repeated obstacles. But surviving them makes the end of the journey more sweet. The look I saw on my children’s grandmother’s face as she passed is etched in my mind. After a day of crying out in pain, after over 3 1/2 years of chemos, radiations, operations, ports, medications, pain, pain and more pain, she was finally at peace. She was finally able to celebrate the end of a long, hard journey. She was finally able to reap her rewards for a life well-lived, which I liken to the exhilarating rush of adrenaline one gets at the end of a 5k, a 10k, a marathon or a triathlon, any event that forced us to challenge ourselves to rise above and we did. There are days when I miss her like crazy. I still have all of her text messages in my phone. Every time I take a picture of one of the kids, it’s my instinctive reaction to send it to her, nearly 2 months after she passed. And this holiday season will probably be difficult. She collected Santa Clauses. Her house was filled with them starting the day after Thanksgiving. It made her home warm, inviting and magical all December long. There are things that I will miss horribly for many years to come, but I think she fulfilled her purpose. She left a lasting impression on my heart, on the hearts of my children. She has forever impacted our family traditions; she has forever impacted all of the special needs children she taught, all of the people she worked with, and all of the many family and friends who crowded her home in Florida and a funeral home in Puerto Rico. She passed at the young age of 57, but I know she left a permanent imprint on the hearts of at least double that. And that’s all I can hope for. That’s all I can hope to do as well.

Which is why I push for self-love, for self-acceptance. Self-hatred is an obsession. Self-loathing is a time-consuming distraction. Constantly comparing yourself to the person beside you or across from you means that you’re comparing rather than conversing, that you are internalizing rather than impacting. You can’t dislike who you are and boldly, proudly share yourself with the world. You can’t treat yourself horribly and then expect to rise up like a champion. You can’t despise who you are and then embrace all you were meant to be. The longer your focus remains on what you’re lacking, the more foolish you’ll feel when you realize that, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter if you are rail thin or if you are extra extra curvy. We all have a job, a purpose, and we all have the ability to do it, to fulfill it, regardless of our size, regardless of our beliefs, regardless of any discriminatory factors. You’ve got what it takes. Beautiful women do not accomplish more than “ugly” women. Plus size women do not accomplish less than thinner women. I’ve run 5k’s alongside women half my size and even a woman twice my size. Do not let the adjectives define you. Do not let the adjectives stop you. They are just adjectives. Take away the fat or thin, take away the descriptors and the only word that remains is the noun ‘woman.’ I don’t know if you’ve brushed up on your history lately or not, but women of all shapes and sizes have made history. Women of all statures, all cultures, all education levels have accomplished amazing, wonderful things. How? They didn’t focus on what they were lacking. They focused on what they had, what they were capable of, what needed to be done rather than what they couldn’t do. Their focus was never on themselves. It was never about them. It was about all those who needed them.

And that was the heart my children’s grandmother had. She was never focused on herself, on what she was going through. She was focused on how she could still be there for her grandkids. She was focused on spending as much time with them as she could. She was focused on what her boys needed, what she could do to prepare them for a life without her. She was focused on anyone and everyone but herself in the end. She no longer cared about what she looked like, because, it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if she had arm flab, one breast or two. All that mattered was that others needed her. They were her focus. They were her drive. They were her reason for living. And, in the end, they were her purpose. You are never your purpose in life. Your purpose always revolves around others.

Love yourself every day that you can. Love others every day that you can. Make the most of the time you have. Make the most of the talents you were given. I will never stop writing. I will never stop creating. It’s engrained in me. And I just know that my purpose is connected to it. I don’t know how many writers you’ve met, but we all come in different shapes and sizes. We all come from different backgrounds and cultures. The adjectives don’t matter though. The adjectives others attach to me don’t matter. They don’t define my worth, they don’t define my abilities and they certainly don’t change my capabilities. Don’t allow the adjectives to be more than merely adjectives. If for no other reason than because it’s fall, beautiful weather is here or coming soon, and the more time you spend focused on the descriptors, the less time you have to enjoy the weather, to enjoy life, to enjoy each day, each breath and each cup of coffee.

It’s fall! It’s my favorite season. Though I have a thousand reasons to wallow, I have a million more to smile, to face each day with purpose, with drive and with appreciation. Life is a series of choices, and regardless of the descriptors surrounding me, I’m choosing to live it well. I hope you will choose the same. – Christin

Contest Winners!

Hello All,

I hope y’all are enjoying your weekend so far! I’ve been staying busy with admin work, when the kids allow me. Anyone with kids, or a needy sibling, knows what I’m talking about. There is no such thing as finding a groove without being interrupted.

I loved reading all of your entries! I seriously couldn’t stop smiling as I did. Then, all of your names were put into a pot and randomly drawn. However, reading a few of your entries has moved me to do a little more. The number of entries combined with the amount of swag I have, allows me to do more.

1. Anyone who mentioned they wanted to read a title (that is currently available) will be receiving a copy. If your name is on the list below, please e-mail me and I will send over a copy of the title(s) in your chosen format.

Tena Barnes – Controlled by Two
Sabrina Cole – Allure
Teran – One Letter & One E-mail
Michaela Sterling – Allure
Trisha Batley – Two Times the Charm
Stacy Stenum – Allure
Rebecca Harvey – Karley’s Surrender (You will receive a heavily edited and expanded edition when it releases; it will contain multiple brand new scenes!)

2. Everyone who entered the Young Adult Contest will be receiving a prize! Please e-mail me your name and complete mailing address so that your prize may be shipped out by the end of the month.

First Place: Madi K.
Kobo bag full of author swag, some signed, *plus* a signed bookmark from me, a young adult title keychain, *and* an e-book copy of any 2 young adult titles currently available (as of 9/2/2014).

Second Place: Tabitha Ponder
Kobo bag full of author swag, some signed, *plus* a young adult title keychain, a signed bookmark from me, *and* an e-book copy of any young adult title of mine currently available (as of 9/2/2014).

Third – Twelfth Place: If your name is on the list below, you will be receiving the final prize(s) of:
A young adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Dulce
SugarPaws81 (Jill)
Julia
Daytona Reed
Katya
Precious
Rachel Baird
Sara
Shelby
Emilia

3. Most of the adult entries gave reasons for loving a book that I agreed with, the reasons you gave were some of the very reasons why I cherish a title and the characters involved. I loved them all for that reason. You gave a reason I already had or offered me a new reason to adore a title. Thank you!

Unfortunately, so many entered the Adult Contest that I don’t have enough prizes to go around, but I did expand the list to offer 11 Winners now. If your name is on the list below, please e-mail me your name and complete mailing address so that your prize may be shipped out by the end of the month.

First Place: Angela Franklin
Kobo bag full of author swag, some signed, *plus* a signed bookmark from me, an adult title keychain, an e-book copy of any adult title of mine currently available (as of 9/2/2014), *and* a signed print copy of the book ‘Two Times the Charm.’

Second Place: Roisin
Kobo bag full of author swag, some signed, *plus* an adult title keychain, an e-book copy of any adult title of mine currently available (as of 9/2/2014), *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Third Place: Hillary
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Fourth Place: Connie
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Fifth Place: Sarah
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Sixth Place: Sarah Riley
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Seventh Place: Sherry
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Eighth Place: Rebecca Taylor
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Ninth Place: Teresa Martin
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Tenth Place: Andrea
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

Eleventh Place: CTCurvy
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.

TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE:

Please send an e-mail to christinlovell@gmail.com with the subject ‘Prize Winner – Adult‘ OR ‘Prize Winner – Young Adult.’ Please include your first and last name and your full mailing address. As a reminder, all prizes will be mailed by September 30th, 2014. Please be sure to send your contact information as soon as possible. The sooner I receive everyone’s information, the sooner the prizes will be shipped out.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!

BONUS: To all Adult Contest Participants, please pick up a *FREE* copy of the first title in the Alpha Doms series, Controlled Curves, at All Romance E-books (ARe) OR at the Kobo E-book Store. – ENJOY!

I hope you all enjoy the last of your weekend. Make the most of every day that you are given. – Christin

Contest Alert…and more.

Hello Readers,

Patience is a virtue, and I’m a pretty patient person. We all have exceptions, though. For instance, I have horrible road rage. I’m the woman who yells at the other drivers through her car windows, expecting them to hear her. I’m also super impatient when I’m waiting on a new title from an author that I love. *cough* Christa Wick *cough*

I feel so incredibly blessed to have readers continually asking for the final book in the Vamp Chronicles. I feel so incredibly blessed to have readers asking about Cade’s story. I feel blessed period. No matter how stressed I am, I have to be grateful for what I have. And I’m grateful to have all of you.

What we often don’t see is the behind the scenes stuff, the other factors, the reasons. I don’t know if the person I’m yelling at is a new driver, if they are lost or perhaps recently had a scary crash and want to avoid another. Likewise, I don’t know all that Christa Wick is going through personally. I don’t know if she is secretly writing up a storm to bulk release or if she is going through a hard time. (Okay, so I might know that last one, but still…) I think impatience can be a result of selfishness sometimes. I want to get where I’m going and I want to get there now. I want to read the next book in that series and I want to read it now. It’s an ‘I want‘ and ‘I deserve‘ mentality that I am so guilty of.

I can only speak for myself. I am *only* speaking for myself. Admittedly, sometimes I can be selfish. Admittedly, sometimes I can be impatient. Admittedly, I can be disorganized, needy, overzealous, unprepared, etc. I am human, and I am full of flaws, flaws that I could list for anyone. However, sometimes, it isn’t about the flaws, but rather the heart. It’s about what is at the core. And, at the core, I want to give you what you’re asking for. I want to be what you expect. I want to defy possibilities at times and blow you all out of the water. I want more than I say and more than you see.
 
But that’s the tricky part. Sometimes, I can’t tell you what’s going on behind the scenes. Sometimes, you can’t see what I’m doing, what I’ve done or what I’m working on. Sometimes, you can’t see the amazing that I am anxious to share with you.
 
I never liked the phrase ‘Good things come to those who wait,’ probably because I knew it was true. In a world fueled by instant gratification, who would want to wait? I don’t!
 
But, alas, it is true, most of the time. All of you Vamp Chronicles readers and fans, please hold on. Good things are coming for this series! I can’t say now, and I can’t show you right now, but it is coming. I’m not evading your questions, I’m not avoiding you, I am working behind the scenes *for you.* Because I want to give you more. Because I want to be what you expect in some capacity. You’ve got to hang tight, though.
 
Part of the greatness of being a writer is having the freedom to grow in any direction. I love the opportunities writing has provided me. I love that I can decide what I’m going to write next, even if it’s in a genre I’ve never touched. I love that I have flexibility in my schedule. I love that I get to spend the holidays with my kids. I love and appreciate what all of you have afforded me. I’m not rich, by any means, and there are fancy private schools and therapies I would like to be able to afford for my sons, but, alas, I have what is important: enough. I have enough to live and do. And that’s because of you! You’ve given me a gift I could never repay, but I am trying. I am working for all of you. Because I want to give you more. Because I want to be what you expect in some capacity.
 
So, for now, I can’t tell you what’s to come just yet. But I can assure something is coming, and that good things come to those who wait.
 
And…I *can* do a contest! I haven’t done one of these in a hot minute. If you don’t like to win FREE stuff, then exit this page now. (This is a judgment free zone. I won’t hate on you for leaving.)
 
*****
CONTEST ALERT!
I have a brand, spanking new contest for all of you, and all of the details are below!
 
Contest Basics:
There are 2 separate contests: one for those 18 & older, and one for those 18 & younger. So, essentially, an ADULT contest and a YOUNG ADULT contest. The contest will run through Saturday, September 6th, 2014 @ 12am, midnight, EST. 
 
Prizes:
YOUNG ADULT Winner:
Kobo bag full of author swag, some signed, *plus* a signed bookmark from me, a young adult title keychain, *and* an e-book copy of any 2 young adult titles currently available (as of 9/2/2014).
YOUNG ADULT Runner Up:
Kobo bag full of author swag, some signed, *plus* a young adult title keychain, a signed bookmark from me, *and* an e-book copy of any young adult title of mine currently available (as of 9/2/2014).
YOUNG ADULT Places 3rd-5th:
A young adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.
 
ADULT Winner:
Kobo bag full of author swag, some signed, *plus* a signed bookmark from me, an adult title keychain, an e-book copy of any adult title of mine currently available (as of 9/2/2014), *and* a signed print copy of the book ‘Two Times the Charm.’
ADULT Runner Up:
Kobo bag full of author swag, some signed, *plus* an adult title keychain, an e-book copy of any adult title of mine currently available (as of 9/2/2014), *and* a signed bookmark from me.
ADULT Places 3rd-5th:
An adult title keychain *and* a signed bookmark from me.
 
Contest Fine Print:
ONE entry per person. Contest Winners will be chosen at random and announced on Sunday, September 7th, 2014, at or before 2pm EST. All prizes will be shipped out on or before September 30th, 2014. This contest *IS* open to International readers. (Woohoo!)
 
How to Enter:
This is, of course, the most important part of it all. Comment on this website post (and this post *only* – social media comments will *not* be counted) with the following:
1. – Whether you are entering the ADULT or YOUNG ADULT contest.
2. – Which of my books is your favorite? OR Which of my titles would you like to read (that you haven’t already)?
3. – Why (is it your favorite)? OR Why (would you like to read this book in particular)?
(Example 1: YOUNG ADULT – Diary of a Vampeen – Because I can relate to Lexi, and that doesn’t happen with every heroine I read about.)
(Example 2: ADULT – One Letter – Because Daniel sounds like a sexy hero I would enjoy reading about.)
*****
 
HAPPY COMMENTING!Christin

Update: Body Love

It’s been a long summer, and not the kind full of happy memories by the lake or long weekends at the beach. I contemplated for some time what to share with you all and how much to share; while I am open, there is quite a bit that I hold back and barricade with me.

I haven’t written or worked on anything in two weeks now. For anyone that knows me, they know that I’ve always strived to write something every day, even if it was just a few lines. Progress is progress, no matter how small.

1. My daughter was in summer school, and whether she will progress to the next grade is still unknown. Any parent knows the anxiety this might cause. We are waiting on a single reply that will determine much of my child’s future.

2. My youngest son, Roman, has full-blown autism. (My oldest son has Aspergers.) I drove down to South Florida on June 20th to discover this. We have a lot of follow-up appointments and more assessments to complete, which, without insurance, are financially taxing. There are moments I feel like a failure because I can’t afford anything close to what I need to be able to, yet I’m above the poverty line and don’t qualify for government aid. Social Security Disability takes a while, and even once approved – if we’re approved – nothing will be in effect immediately. This runs through my head every single night.

3. Most recently, my children’s grandmother passed away. Three weeks prior, the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do and called in Hospice. Wednesday, she dropped my oldest son off to me with her husband and seemed fine, if a bit drowsy from the medicine she had been taking. Thursday, she was okay, but sounded closer to loopy. She was present, but struggled with cognizance at times. Friday was the day she dropped off drastically. She could no longer walk, could hardly move, and had so few moments of clarity I feared no one would be able to say a proper good-bye. For the next three days, I was with her every minute I could be for over 15 hours a day…until she passed away on Monday. It was time though. I laid in bed with her all day Monday, singing to her, rubbing her head and talking to her about the kids, assuring her everyone would be okay. She moaned in pain all day though, despite my efforts. It wasn’t until about an hour before she passed away, after they had pumped an extremely high amount of meds into her, that she finally calmed down. I saw her take her last breath and I was the last to kiss her cold head for a final good-bye.

Friday to Monday was all the time we were given to process this, to get everyone there to say good-bye. It happened so fast. She was given a 6-month timeframe by the doctors, and it ended up being 3-weeks from start to finish. What they don’t tell you, though, is, once they pass, there is a ton of stuff to do. You aren’t given the proper chance to grieve for a while. There are closets and drawers to clean out, funeral arrangements to make, a massive stack of paperwork to do all while you’re attempting to console everyone around you, all while your phone continuously goes off because concerned friends want to check on you, all while you’re still in shock, merely going through the tiresome motions.

At her service, a video of photos was displayed. I saw her so often and spent so much time with her, I didn’t notice how much she had changed physically. I saw her losing weight, and found myself buying her smaller sized clothes, and of course she lost her hair, but I didn’t realize how much life had been zapped from her figure, from her features, until I looked back. And that had me thinking hard about:

We spend so much time hating our bodies, trying to hide it, feeling ashamed of it, picking out its flaws and comparing it to worldly standards…until one day, it’s ravaged with disease, and the body we once loathed becomes the one we are fighting to reclaim. I don’t care whether you are 98 lbs, 198 lbs, 298 lbs or 398 lbs, I don’t care whether you are boyish and flat or extra curvy and wider than most chairs accommodate, we are all beautifully and wonderfully made, and we need to spend less time focusing on what’s wrong with our bodies and more time doing all that we can, in the time that we’re given, with our bodies. Do you realize how many memories we miss out on, how much of our life, of our happiness, we give up because we’re afraid of what someone else thinks, because we’re worried about how we’ll look doing something rather than just doing it?

My children’s grandmother never liked pictures of herself. Thankfully, she still took them, but when she saw them, she usually made a negative comment. She never wore a bathing suit, never showed her legs because they were “pins” and she was always fussing with her hair. Looking back at it all though, I saw nothing but beauty. With age, she became a little thicker in the middle, but she was never considered plus size. Those skinny legs she hated (oddly because they weren’t fuller and more shapely like mine) are the legs of Jessica Simpson, the legs celebrities bust their tails to have and display in short shorts. Her round face kept her youthful and young, even though she was in her late forties at the time. She struggled to see her beauty, to appreciate her own beauty for what is was, until it was too late.

It happens all the time though. We miss out on so much because we have this fear about our bodies that literally keeps us frozen in place. We’re afraid of what others will say or think, until we realize anyone with anything negative to say isn’t a friend and isn’t anyone we should allow to govern the joy in our life. We’re afraid of how bad we’ll look in photos, until one day, we find ourselves looking back on those photos with longing. We’re afraid of being happy, until we reflect and realize that we closed the door on a slew of opportunities. We hold ourselves back. It’s easy to blame life, to blame our situations, to blame circumstances, and when it comes to the larger things, like finances, that is true to a degree, but for the smaller things like emotion, we are the gatekeepers, we are the supervisors, we are the responsible ones.

Stop being afraid of your body. Stop being ashamed of a body that is probably working close to perfect today. Stop robbing yourself and your family of memories that they will need later, that you all will cherish later. Disease doesn’t discriminate. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. (Blunt moments ahead!) You could develop it tomorrow, and then the body you were hating on today would be the very body you would have to fight hard to reclaim, with no guarantee of ever reclaiming it. There are no exclusions when it comes to this disease. Children get it. High school students get it. Young adults get it. New parents get it. Aging parents get it. Senior citizens get it. You can’t protect yourself from it the way you can many other diseases. It’s one of the few diseases that both carnivores and vegans get in kind, that both health nuts and lazy Janes get in kind, that both the overly conscious and the naively unaware get in kind.

Embrace the body you have today. Appreciate the body you have today. It may not be perfect when checked against society’s standards, but if you’re healthy enough to read this, then your body is doing better than you’re probably giving it credit for. She couldn’t read at the end. She could barely eat, could barely take her medicine and I had to hoist, support, and move every pound of her. You don’t know shame until your body can no longer do what it was designed to do. You don’t know fear until death is knocking at your door and no matter how hard you fight, you can’t elude it. You don’t know opportunity until you consider chemo and radiation as opportunities to regain a portion of the life you once lived. You don’t know figure flaws until you have a breast hacked off, until you have ports protruding in various locations, until your flesh is discolored from treatment after treatment.

Love the body you have today, no matter its weight, no matter its shape, no matter its size. Love the body that has gotten you to this point in life without failing, without being seized and overrun. Love this imperfectly perfect body while you can, every day that you can. In high school, I thought I was fat. I hid behind large clothes and shame. Looking back, I was far from. I was plus size at a size 14/16, but I wasn’t any of the things I thought I was. Neither was my children’s grandmother. The problem is, we can’t keep looking back in longing, only appreciating our bodies in reverse. We need to act now. We need to appreciate what we have now, not from a hospital bed weak and withered, not from your own bed frail and faint.

Never be afraid of your body. We are all beautifully and wonderfully made. Beyond that, you never know when disease may ravage that body. Love it while you can, every day that you can. You will never regret loving yourself. You will regret the opportunities you passed up because you were uncomfortable and ashamed of yourself. I really can’t impress this upon you enough.

You never know when you will go from this:

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To this:

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From this:

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To this:

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Love yourself while you can, every day that you can. Embrace every curve, every edge, every imperfection as perfection.

Love the body you have today, not the one you’ll have x amount of pounds from now. Love your body for all it is today, not x amount of years from now when you’re staring in disbelief at a photo you once loathed of yourself. Love your body unconditionally, because, for x amount of years, it’s done its job; it’s protected you from disease, it’s kept you going and it’s given you every minute you’ve wasted. It’s ensured you could take every breath, consume every meal, get out of bed every morning and climb into bed each night. And for all of that, for all its years of service, doesn’t it deserve your appreciation, your love?

Final thought.

How many of you would continue to give your very best to a company, to a boss, that didn’t appreciate you, that didn’t like you and that constantly diminished your worth every single day?

Now realize, you’re the boss of your own body. You can choose to love it or loathe it, to embrace it or rebuke it. But it will always be yours.

My advice? Love it while you can, every day that you can.

- Christin